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The NHS Five Year Forward View – One Year In

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Five Year Forward View – where are we now?

Now entering the second year of Simon Stevens’ Five Year Forward View, we are finally beginning to see a broad consensus on what the future of health care is supposed to be. There’s a recognition that health services need to be organised around the needs of the patient rather than outdated professional bodies, and that the focus needs to be on prevention rather than diagnosis and treatment.

Public Health England’s new strategy sets out priorities in their new model of care for tackling obesity, smoking and harmful drinking; ensuring that children get the best start in life; and that we reduce the risk of dementia through tackling lifestyle risks. NHS England have commented that, increasingly, ‘we need to manage systems – networks of care – not just organisations.’

A key principle being endorsed by the Five Year Forward View, therefore, is that of interoperability. If the NHS is to succeed and avoidable medical conditions are to be prevented, information needs to be interoperable across all of its services.

The direct relationship between accessible data and improved healthcare services leads us to question how Business Intelligence software can help bridge the gap between the two. Connexica’s leading product, CXAIR, is currently used in cancer organisations to convert pathology data into a structured format to allow the submission of COSD. Not only is the implementation of this software saving organisations from incurring expensive penalty fines, it is also providing the means to quickly create interoperable data and play a part in the preventative attitude being adopted by the NHS.

Similarly, the Coalition Government wants to tackle preventable incidence of cancer, and when healthcare professionals have access to their patient’s data contained within other organisations, their decisions are better informed and such incidences can possibly be prevented. The purpose of CXAIR and of other Business Intelligence software is to ensure that data is interoperable and accessible, and we are beginning to see the benefits of such software in organisations such as Surrey and Borders Mental Health Trust.

NHS Five Year Forward View
The Five Year Forward View has highlighted mental health as a priority, upgrading the quality of care provided by these services and ensuring that young people in particular have access to the primary care that they need. CXAIR is currently being implemented in Surrey and Borders Mental Health Trust in order to unify their disparate data sets and ensure that information is accessible across the organisation through the use of a web browser.

The software not only unifies the data, it also allows users without any technical or reporting knowledge to use it – reporting in CXAIR is ad hoc and intuitive and the search-powered technology means that it can be done by anyone who knows how to Google. Empowering a greater number of staff within mental health organisations to access and understand their data means that time and money usually spent on these administrative tasks will become available for better purposes. The Service User can therefore become a priority.

NHS England have further recognised that ‘services need to be integrated around the patient. For example a patient with cancer needs their mental health and social care coordinated around them. Patients with mental illness need their physical health addressed at the same time.’

Sceptics of the Five Year Forward View have argued that its aims, such as the one just outlined, are ‘big picture stuff,’ idealistic and lengthy to implement. Yet, at the beginning of its second year, we are already seeing a difference. With the help of BI software, organisations such as Surrey and Borders Mental Health Trust are already beginning to speak to one another and share lifesaving information.

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