The NHS will begin recording data from the private healthcare sector for the first time, in an attempt to bridge gaps in patient health records and improve the quality of available information.

An initiative has been launched by NHS Digital and the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) that will see performance data, published by private hospitals, integrated into NHS systems.

Called the Acute Data Alignment Programme (ADAPt), the initiative aims, in part, to address cases in which an individual may have received care privately and therefore has treatment information missing from their NHS health record.

The programme is being jointly led by NHS Digital and PHIN, in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England, NHS Improvement, and the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

PHIN is an independent, not-for-profit organisation responsible for collecting and publishing performance data on all privately funded acute healthcare in the UK, as part of the Competition and Market Authority’s (CMA) Private Healthcare Market Investigation Order 2014.

The data is being made available to the public with the aim of helping patients make more informed decisions about the treatment they receive.

Under ADAPt, PHIN will send data on 750,000 privately funded hospital discharges or “episodes” to NHS Digital each year.

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, called the programme “an important, practical step in taking forward the safety agenda in the independent sector” that would “drive improvements in data collection and help patients and others understand more about the quality of care”.

PHIN is currently in the process of collating performance data on private practice consultants ahead of an anticipated publication next month.

Approximately 4,000 consultants have logged in to PHIN’s online portal since December 2017 to review and update their clinical data.

Matt James, chief executive of PHIN said: “We’re delighted to be working on the ADAPt Program with NHS Digital and other partners. ADAPt potentially offers a faster and more sustainable way to achieve greater transparency in private healthcare.”

Last year, PHIN launched a series of performance measures for private healthcare providers after a 2014 investigation by the CMA criticised the lack of transparency in the sector.

While the CQC already publishes data on independent healthcare providers, PHIN’s aim is to make more detailed information available to prospective patients.

Sarah Wilkinson, chief executive of NHS Digital, said: “Integrating data from private suppliers into NHS systems will improve the completeness of records for patients whose care is split across private and NHS providers. This will improve safety, efficacy and convenience for these patients.

“In addition, it will provide insights into patient outcomes in the private sector and how they compare to the NHS. These insights will help increase standards of care in both sectors.”