Performance Investigator, a web-enabled analysis tool that runs over NHSNet, is to replace OSCAR and Organisation HealthCheck as the standard system for monitoring the operation of Primary Care Trusts.

The new system is an improvement on the previous ones as it allows users access to detailed activity and performance reports, as well as the ability to cut and paste information directly into internal reports.

“It’s a well-designed replacement,” says Nick Cheshire, Performance Manager at Plymouth Teaching Primary Care Trust, who helped to beta-test the product. “It provides useful, timely and relevant information, helping PCTs to work smarter, not harder."

The range of sources used to collate the information includes Hospital Episode Statistics, national reference costs and DoH quarterly returns on all admissions in England. Analysis can be undertaken on a number of subjects, such as access and cost – and can be plotted over a five year period allowing users to spot trends. The program can also be personalised to a particular PCT.

Furthermore, users will be able to access and compare details of PCTs nationwide, regardless of whether their subjects operate the system. Susan Maddock, Product Implementation Manager at the NHS Information Authority, believes that this is particularly helpful for the introduction of Patient Choice: “Organisations will be in competition to provide the best care. Performance Investigator provides helpful information so that they can see how they’re doing compared with others who are offering similar services."

Training on the new system will be available for everyone. The NHS Information Authority is organising courses for those who use OSCAR and for people with no previous experience of the system. Details of the training programmes are available here.

Performance Investigator has been beta-tested over six sites over England by clinicians and information analysis personnel.