The chief executive of the Information Centre has claimed that the UK has the potential to have the best technology and information systems in the world “if we continue to stick with it.”

He pledged to deliver systems to help achieve this within the next 12-18 months.

Exactly one year on from the final report of Lord Darzi’s Next Stage Review, Tim Straughan told an audience at the Assist Conference in Birmingham that improved use of information will be essential help to deliver ‘High Quality Care for All’.

Straughan highlighted the importance of using information to enable better decision making and outlined an ambitious series of 14 programmes that the IC has embarked on, focused on embedding quality information in clinical decision making.

He said: “These programmes are not going to take place over the usual time frame of three, five or ten years. Instead we are going to complete or make significant progress with them in the next 12-18 months.”

Among the 14 programmes, he said a signposting portal, similar to Google, would shortly be launched. Straughan said the portal would provide a single access point on the internet for a wide range of information, data and informatics services.

He said: “A lot of effort is being put in to make it easier for people to use and find information trapped in the various health and social care systems. We will be delivering a service incrementally allowing people to see what information is where at any one time.”

He continued: “You will be able to go to one place and put in a word, much like you do in Google and it will tell you exactly where to go to find that information.”

Several of the programmes outlined focused on improving information in social care. Straughan acknowledged that many people think that social care information is tied up in too many systems and is too fragmented to use in a useful way.

However, he said: “There is actually more information in social care than there is in the NHS, it is just not available in a standardised way.

“Over the last twelve months the NASCIS (National Adult Social Care Intelligence Service) has developed indicators and data dashboards in the social care arena, which will for the first time, get social care information that we can use.”

Straughan also said that they are “desperate” to get good data standards within social and community care in order to get information about areas they know very little about.

A further programme the chief executive discussed was the new honest broker service.

He said that a pilot had begun to allow patient identifiable information to be joined together through a common identifier then anonymised and aggregated and given to whoever needs it in a safe format.

He said that the service would once again lead to better information within social care as it will be able to be joined-up and compared to NHS and GP information.

Straughan admitted that despite many of the programmes being prepared for launch or in the pilot phase many of them were still subject to the outcome of a business case.


NHS Information Centre