Feeds

NAO calls for new ambulance data systems

Targets mean multiple call-outs

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

Ambulance services need to develop data systems and procedures quickly, so organisations can collect and share information to measure performance, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).

The auditor's new report, Transforming NHS Ambulance Services, says this is one of the measures needed to make poorly performing trusts more efficient. While it focuses on the implications of the eight minute response target for seriously ill patients, it includes recommendations on the use of data to improve outcomes.

The report says the service collects a wide range of performance data, but that the NHS Information Centre requests different interpretations, different dispatch systems are in use, and ambulance services define some metrics differently. The ability of services to generate performance information, and the quality of data on treatment costs, is also variable.

Some commissioners have specified a minimum dataset within their contracts, but there is no standard set across the service, which makes it difficult to benchmark performance against that of other trusts.

In addition, no ambulance services can accurately identify the final treatment pathway of the patient, and are therefore unable to monitor how well they are doing in taking people to the most appropriate places of care.

The report says they need to develop data systems that can link different organisations. Developing the systems would help to provide a fuller measurement of performance based on outcomes.

Electronic patient record forms, which are being trialled in some parts of England and have been used by the Scottish Ambulance Service since 2008, can make it easier to share information and track patients through the system. However, there have been problems with the interfaces between different hospital systems.

The report points out the wide differences in cost per incident between trusts, and says that if all 11 adopted best practice being used in at least one it could save the NHS £165m a year.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: "The time taken to respond to calls has until recently been the be all and end all of measuring the performance of ambulance services. Illustrating the principle that what gets measured, gets done, the result has been a rapid response to urgent and emergency calls. However, this led to an increase in the number of multiple responses to incidents equating to millions of unnecessary ambulance journeys.

"It is welcome that the (health) department has now introduced new measures and a new broader performance regime but improvements to the whole urgent and emergency care system will depend on its working more coherently."

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.