The right IT therapy?

Can greater use of information technology to manage whole healthcare systems help? The National Health Service Information Centre (NHS IC), England’s central, authoritative source of health and social care information for frontline decision makers, believes it can.

SAS, the leader in business analytics software and services, partnered with the NHS IC in May 2009 to build a standardised data management environment and business analytics platform with the aim of revolutionising the use of information to improve decision-making, delivering better care and raising productivity. The project would integrate, manage and analyse information across the NHS, about health inequalities for instance, to help decisionmakers deliver better services and patient care.

“Health services worldwide face three main challenges,” Tim Straughan, the NHS IC chief executive, says. “Firstly, improving the quality of care to meet the expectations of patients; secondly, coping with the economic downturn; and thirdly –the NHS IC’s focus–having access to information and using it effectively to address the first two.”

For the NHS IC to fully understand the efficiency and effectiveness of the services the NHS is providing, data needs to be drawn from different organisations such as social services, mental health services and primary care, in order to manage and analyse it. SAS is working with the NHS IC to integrate data held in disparate systems, in an attempt to achieve a better understanding of patient needs and to improve local decision-making on providing healthcare.

However, budgets have become more challenging in the current economic crisis, and under the new coalition government in the UK, the NHS IC is now placing greater emphasis on the central collection and professional management of all data across the NHS. The UK government is helping by reducing barriers to obtaining health data, for example through its web site at data.gov.uk which, in turn, will drive a commercial market around data analysis.

The goal is for non-NHS organisations to analyse NHS data and provide feedback to healthcare providers. SAS believes that while this approach should enable more transparency and increase patient choice, there is some concern as to the type of profitable analysis which will be attractive to non-NHS organisations. There is the potential complexity of having to manage multiple interpretations and questions over the degree to which some data simply must be analysed internally, such as NHS outcomes and performance measures.

Still, in an era of increasing budgetary pressure and an ageing population, analytics may offer the only way forward to make better-informed decisions and pro-actively manage public healthcare systems. It is early days, although with the right policy support and investment, people’s healthcare and costs should benefit.

For more on the SAS’ work, contact Saul Spearing, Healthcare Client Manager, SAS UK. Visit www.sas.com


©OECD Observer No 281, October 2010




Economic data

GDP growth: +0.6% Q2 2018 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 2.9% Sept 2018 annual
Trade: +2.7% exp, +3.0% imp, Q4 2017
Unemployment: 5.2% Sept 2018
Last update: 13 Nov 2018

E-Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive paper editions delivered to you directly


Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • Globalisation will continue and get stronger, and how to harness it is the great challenge, says OECD Secretary-General Gurría on Bloomberg TV. Watch the interview here.
  • OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría with UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, in New York City.
  • The new OECD Observer Crossword, with Myles Mellor. Try it online!
  • Watch the webcast of the final press conference of the OECD annual ministerial meeting 2018.
  • Listen to the "Robots are coming for our jobs" episode of The Guardian's "Chips with Everything podcast", in which The Guardian’s economics editor, Larry Elliott, and Jeremy Wyatt, a professor of robotics and artificial intelligence at the University of Birmingham, and Jordan Erica Webber, freelance journalist, discuss the findings of the new OECD report "Automation, skills use and training". Listen here.
  • Do we really know the difference between right and wrong? Alison Taylor of BSR and Susan Hawley of Corruption Watch tell us why it matters to play by the rules. Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview here.
  • Has public decision-making been hijacked by a privileged few? Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview with Stav Shaffir, MK (Zionist Union) Chair of the Knesset Committee on Transparency here.
  • Can a nudge help us make more ethical decisions? Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview with Saugatto Datta, managing director at ideas42 here.
  • The fight against tax evasion is gaining further momentum as Barbados, Côte d’Ivoire, Jamaica, Malaysia, Panama and Tunisia signed the BEPS Multilateral Convention on 24 January, bringing the total number of signatories to 78. The Convention strengthens existing tax treaties and reduces opportunities for tax avoidance by multinational enterprises.
  • Rousseau
  • Do you trust your government? The OECD’s How's life 2017 report finds that only 38% of people in OECD countries trust their government. How can we improve our old "Social contract?" Read more.
  • Globalisation’s many benefits have been unequally shared, and public policy has struggled to keep up with a rapidly-shifting world. The OECD is working alongside governments and international organisations to help improve and harness the gains while tackling the root causes of inequality, and ensuring a level playing field globally. Please watch.
  • Checking out the job situation with the OECD scoreboard of labour market performances: do you want to know how your country compares with neighbours and competitors on income levels or employment?
  • Trade is an important point of focus in today’s international economy. This video presents facts and statistics from OECD’s most recent publications on this topic.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .
  • Visit the OECD Gender Data Portal. Selected indicators shedding light on gender inequalities in education, employment and entrepreneurship.

Most Popular Articles

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2018