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Plans launched to integrate health and social care data

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Health and social care data sets are to be joined up for the first time to aid integrated commissioning under the NHS Commissioning Board’s final information operating model.

Health reporting HSJ and LGC logo

At the launch of the model at the Commissioning Show in London last week, the board’s commissioning intelligence lead Helen Brown suggested councils could share data services with clinical commissioning groups, or be licensed as a commissioning support service themselves.

The NHS Information Centre will have a national role integrating health and social care data under the plan. The intention is to allow an unprecedented level of benchmarking on performance and cost.

For the first time, local data from councils and NHS organisations will be “pumped up” to the information centre by commissioning support services (CSSs) - the bodies that will be set up to assist commissioning groups. This data could include local unit costs for health treatments and social care.

It should enable comparisons between organisations and localities that were previously impossible.

The model also confirms that data integration and validation services will be provided by around 10 CSSs acting as “data management and integration centres” on behalf of the rest.

Ms Brown said she hoped councils would use the centres to process social care or public health data, enabling it to be connected to NHS data sets.

She said it was hoped that CSSs with data management roles could “drive conformity” in local data sets.

“Moving forward there’s a potential to work more closely across health and social care… local authorities could work a lot more closely with CSSs,” she said. “Local authorities could be the people that take forward being a CSS or a data management and integration centre.”

She later told LGC’s sister title Health Service Journal that data management centres would be licensed by the commissioning board. In future, those licences could be awarded to non-CSS bodies, such as councils.

NHS Information Centre chief executive Tim Straughan told HSJ: “This is a game changer. The value and the power of it is going to be huge.”

Mr Straughan said information from council social services was potentially a “rich source” for NHS commissioners seeking to risk profile their populations or design new pathways of care.

Joining NHS and council information could also help commissioners design an integrated year-of-care tariff for providers, as local data could be compared with equivalent sets from elsewhere in the country.

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