NHS data analysis saves £518m

NHS Business Services Authority more than half way to its savings target from using data analysis to enhance services and improve efficiency

The continued drive to increase the use of digital technologies in the NHS has led to efficiency savings in excess of £581m, it has been revealed.

The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), an arm’s-length body of the Department of Health that provides support services to the NHS, has created millions of pounds worth of savings uncovering new efficiencies through data analysis.

The NHS sits on billions of data points that have the potential to deliver tremendous value to the wider healthcare system in the UK when combined and analysed effectively

Since deploying the Oracle Exadata database machine two years ago, the organisation has been able to combine billions of data points on prescriptions, medicines, medical exemptions, doctor relationships and call centre services, leading to better outcomes for patients.

The ability to manipulate and draw insight from patient data has also helped to manage prescriptions more securely and fight the pressing issue of anti-microbial resistance.

By providing accurate, reliable data back to clinicians and policy makers, the organisation has enabled antibiotic prescribing to be reduced by 7%.

This week’s figure of £581m savings shows it is well on its way to meeting its goal of delivering £1billion worth of efficiencies to reinvest in frontline patient care by the end of next year.

This will be helped by the launch of an analytics lab where it will consolidate available data to uncover further opportunities for improvement.

“The NHS sits on billions of data points that have the potential to deliver tremendous value to the wider healthcare system in the UK when combined and analysed effectively,” said Nina Monckton, chief insight officer at the NHSBSA.

If the NHS embraces digital innovation in transforming the back office as well as in frontline clinical matters, then the savings created by the NHSBSA could be just the tip of the iceberg

“The project was about working smarter and faster, reducing the risk of error in our operations, and, most importantly, helping to present options to the wider NHS to enable it to deliver higher standards of patient care and better outcomes.

“In doing this we were able to uncover cost savings that will allow the UK healthcare system to invest even more funds into providing the best-possible care.

“This is something we could never have done without significant processing power beyond what was available to us.

“Oracle Exadata has helped us make major headway so far and we continue to uncover new ways to advise the wider NHS on improving the care it provides to patients each day.”

Dermot O’Kelly, senior vice president for the UK, Ireland and Israel at Oracle, added: “Antimicrobial resistance is a major problem, not just in the UK, but around the globe.

“The United Nations General Assembly unanimously agreed to tackle this issue just over a year ago, and by taking a data-driven approach to cut down the unnecessary use of broad spectrum antibiotics, the NHSBSA is showing the world how technology can help in the fight against over medication and the rise of drug-resistant disease.”

The news has been welcomed by healthcare IT companies who have long argues that the increased use of technology, and the data it produces, could significantly help to improve medical services at the same time as making them more efficient.

Graham Bennett, healthcare director at Insource, said: “If the NHS embraces digital innovation in transforming the back office as well as in frontline clinical matters, then the savings created by the NHSBSA could be just the tip of the iceberg.

The NHS needs a robust data management strategy that supports the gathering, standardisation, and use of data to gain insight to improve efficiencies and sustainability, for the benefit of its clinical staff, administrators, and, of course, its patients

“Organisations across a wide range of industries recognise the importance of collecting data and the insight and intelligence that analysing this data can deliver to their business.

“A precious resource, data is one of healthcare’s most- valuable assets. Automating its management is still seen as farfetched by many within the NHS, however, despite the benefits it offers in terms of freeing up time and resources, and the insights it delivers that can improve services and patient care.

“The NHS needs a robust data management strategy that supports the gathering, standardisation, and use of data to gain insight to improve efficiencies and sustainability, for the benefit of its clinical staff, administrators, and, of course, its patients.

“Digital transformation is affecting the NHS as much as any other business today, requiring the service to innovate its processes and procedures to allow it to do more for less.

“That innovation should run all the way through the service – from its frontline practitioners to its back-office services.”

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