Eight NHS trusts and commissioning support units have invested in a weekly updated reference database of healthcare organisations.

Filipe McManus, director of UK Health Dimensions, said the dimensions database solves the problem of maintaining reference databases for all healthcare organisations in England.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre regularly sends out updated reference files including information on things such as GP practice patients and clinical commissioning groups.

Organisations also need to keep their databases up-to-date on things like read codes and Payments by Results information.

Trusts and CSUs have to download the data and put it into their own databases to ensure things like invoices are sent to the right place.

McManus said this takes considerable resource to maintain and is being done individually by every trust in the country.

“I have worked as a consultant at several NHS organisations and often had to build a mini reference database for them and once I realised that basically they all want the exact same thing, I built a very comprehensive database for everyone to use,” he explained.

The Health Dimensions Database has around 1,500 tables containing around 16.5m records and is automatically updated every week.

McManus said he has eight customers including six hospitals and two CSUs.

NHS South London CSU data architect Thushan Liyanage told EHI the need to maintain an up-to-date reference database required a permanent member of staff.

The unit went live with UKHD in March this year and the database is available to all of its CCG customers.

Liyanage said the cost savings are significant and customers are happy with the service.

“It definitely is a big advantage for us to have this primary source of reference data because what we’re aiming to do is to have a single data warehouse and base all our reports and dashboards etc on that, so it’s very very important that our reference database is up-to-date,” he explained.