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Data gathering should be done in clinics, says NHS informatics chief

17 September 2014 - 2:00pm

Gathering data about services should be part of the clinical process for physiotherapists and other healthcare professionals, said Jonathan Kay, clinical informatics director at NHS England.

Chartered physios pointing at patient information folder

Accurate and timely data to monitor and evaluate services is fundamental to good patient care

Professor Kay was speaking to Frontline at a GovToday digital healthcare event, held in London earlier this month. He said there was a huge burden on practitioners to gather data for their jobs and for other purposes.

‘The first thing to mention is that we must gather data on the fly from the clinical process, which largely means computerisation,’ he said.

‘The other thing we should be doing is giving back to everyone who is gathering data some benefit from it, quickly. It’s like when you get a questionnaire; if you are going to be told what the findings are, it gives you a lot more motivation to fill it in.’

Ruth ten Hove, CSP head of research and development, welcomed Professor Kay’s comments. ‘Accurate and timely data to monitor and evaluate services is fundamental to good patient care, and crucial to the future of our profession,’ she said.

Steve Tolan, head of practice and development at the CSP, said many clinicians see data collection as a burden. ‘But in reality it should be a core activity, allowing us to contextualise services and patient care,’ he said.

Clinical information officers

Professor Kay wants every NHS provider and clinical commissioning group to have a chief clinical information officer who will oversee information management.

‘This role is not to run projects, or be responsible for everything, but to be aware of what is possible, to join things up locally and to talk to the other chief clinical information officers across the country about what works and what does not work,’ he said.

Ms ten Hove said physiotherapy staff should seek out their organisation’s chief clinical information officer, or other informatics lead. ‘We need physios willing to champion IT and ensure physiotherapy data is included in these developments’.

But she cautioned that computer equipment can be perceived as a barrier by patients. ‘It’s worth spending time and seeking advice about the best products.

‘Smaller devices, such as tablets, can be less intrusive and make it easier for physio staff to input and share information with patients.’

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