All commissioning support services have the opportunity to become one of eight to ten new data management integration centres being set up nationwide.

The government’s plan is that the DMICs will provide data validation, integration and storage for clinical commissioning groups, CSSs and local authorities in regard to their public health role.

Helen Brown, commissioning intelligence lead for the NHS Commissioning Board patient and information directorate, spoke about the role of these new centres at the Commissioning show in London on Wednesday.

She said all CSSs have been asked if they want to become one of eight to ten DMICs. The number is based on the need to achieve some economies of scale and efficiency while retaining local focus.

Brown explained that there are lot of locally based and defined data flows that support commissioning and it would be too big a jump to move to a national data storage system.

While there will be top down standards via the NHS CB that may also be monitored through the NHS Information Centre, the aim is for DMICs to drive local standards and conformity, she said.

The centres will be licensed to operate and will have to do things in a standardised way so the data will be easier to aggregate and data quality will improve.

“This means the local authority will be getting data from the same source as the CCG. It’s optional, they can choose where they get it from, but this would be our suggestion,” said Brown.

The chances are that most CCGs will be supported by the CSSs, but some may decide to do their own intelligence and they will be able to go direct to the DMICs to get their data, she added.

Brown led the CCG Intelligence Programme to understand the commissioning intelligence requirements of CCGs and to design a proposed delivery model.

She said CCG leaders wanted a holistic intelligence model with “one version of the truth.” The model also needs to be cost effective by enabling data to be stored and used more than once.

The programme worked with CCGs and CSSs on creating an assessment tool to see “if they really do have intelligence at the heart of their business” and came up with the Commissioning Intelligence Model – released in February.

The CIM is a consolidated view of the different types of commissioning intelligence requirements needed to support evidence-based commissioning decisions.

“By understanding this model it will help CCGs understand the scope of intelligence available to them,” Brown said.

She added that the CCG authorisation process will want to see evidence of CCGs’ capability to produce the sorts of intelligence discussed in the model.

The CIM will be a driver for change alongside a new model for micro-commissioning called the Ali Cameron commissioning tool, which is currently in development.

Brown said micro-commissioning is currently used by GP practices when they identify an issue and pilot a solution on a small scale before changing their practice.

“This facilitates much quicker changes and that’s what CCGs will need to achieve,” she said.

Another NHS CB report – Meeting the intelligence requirements of clinical commissioning groups – is due to be released this summer.