The Patient Information Forum is to develop a business case for the benefits of consumer health information with the support of a Department of Health grant.

The DH’s Innovation, Excellence and Strategic Development Fund has awarded the PiF £175,000 over three years to test and develop innovative approaches to health and wellbeing.

Part of the money in year one will be put towards the cost of developing the PiF’s Case for Information.

This plans to review the evidence for consumer health information and provide support for individual trusts that want to build a business case for investing in patient information.

Mark Duman, chair of the PiF, told EHI Primary Care: “There is all this talk of an ‘information revolution’ and opening up data, but many NHS providers still have no budget line for providing information to the public.

"Unless we invested some proper time in delivering good quality projects for patients then all the rhetoric will be unrealised.”

Duman said the Case for Information would look at studies that found that investing in information for patients saved the system money, as well as highlighting gaps in the evidence-base and areas where more work is needed.

It also aims to document the need for a coordinated and strategic approach to improving the standards and availability of consumer health information.

Duman said he believed the importance of information would also be emphasised in the long-awaited NHS information strategy, which he predicted will talk about information provision as a health service in its own right.

The DH ran its ‘Information Revolution’ consultation well over a year ago, but the promised information strategy has never appeared.

EHI Primary Care understands that because of the Parliamentary break and the local elections, the earliest it can appear is May this year. However, it may well be later.

A second PiF work stream funded by the DH grant this year will create a one stop shop for consumer health information by designing, expanding and updating the PiF website.

The forum hopes this will become a central resource for consumer healthy information professionals and a portal for sharing best practice and expertise.

Duman said work on the website and the Case for Information would begin soon and aim to be complete by the end of the year.

Other elements in the PiF’s three year project, entitled ‘Raising the Quality and Increasing the Impact of Health Information for Patients and the Public’, include national quality standards for patient information and a comprehensive guide for information producers on developing high quality resources.

The PiF was one of 74 charities to benefit from grants from the DH fund, which together were worth more than £6.8m. Care services minister Paul Burstow said the grants would improve the lives of thousands of individuals.

He added: “It is crucial that we continue to champion our voluntary organisations, because their expertise allows them to design and develop innovative solutions to the big challenges we face in health, public health and social care.

“These exciting projects are more than worthy of our support and I am delighted that the money will be spent on providing individuals and local communities with the tools to tackle health and wellbeing.”