A new report – 'Sustaining Universal Healthcare: Making Better Use of Information' – released today by Volterra Partners and EMC has outlined how data analytics and better use of information can improve the efficiency of healthcare delivery in the UK by up to 60%, with the potential to save the NHS between £16.5 billion and £66 billion per year.
The NHS is currently facing a £34 billion funding gap by 2020 and radical action is needed to preserve its core values of 'providing free healthcare for everyone'. The report recommends the use of information sharing and collaboration to deliver a proactive, personalised Wellness Model structure, focused on prevention.
'There has been considerable speculation that the NHS, as a universal healthcare institution, cannot continue in its current form,' Nick Bosanquet, Emeritus Professor of Health Policy at Imperial College and economist at Volterra Partners, commented.
'We need drastic change to cope with the increasing demands from an ageing population, chronic health conditions and emergency readmissions. The report estimates that with better informatics, cancer admissions could be reduced by 30%. This example and other predicted savings calculated in the study offer a clear path to delivering the Wellness Model.'
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The report exposes the gap between the NHS and other industries in its use of data analytics and technology. The lack of electronic records, predictive analytics, collaboration and effective monitoring of patient and treatment outcomes, in addition to personalised care, is leading to failures and financial inefficiencies that are unsustainable in the long-term.
There are pockets of excellence across the UK where data analytics has been effectively employed to deliver better quality of care for patients. If these examples were implemented nationally this would result in savings of £840 million per year due to a reduction in A&E attendances; £200 million per year through reduced complications due to diabetes; £126 million per year through better care management for patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD); Up to £32 million per year through the reduction of readmission rates and £5 billion of savings in staff time through more efficient working practices.
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Scotland has used informatics technology to provide an integrated care model for the treatment of diabetes. This collaborative data-driven project has yielded impressive results with the incidence of lower extremity amputation decreasing by 30% over four years and major amputations falling by 40.7%. The report estimates that if the same system was implemented in England, it could result in 1,775 fewer amputations, saving the NHS £37 million per year.
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The report identifies a number of recommendations to enhance patient care, including speeding up the accessibility of data and communicating the benefits to patients and GPs ahead of time to build trust and buy in, collaboration at a local level with health institutions and academia, investment in appropriate skills in the health workforce to handle and use data effectively, and a change in culture within the Department of Health to drive a real shift to the Wellness Model, rather than just using data to improve performance management