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The biggest problem with data quality, and how you can fix it

Written by Steve Marriott on 16-Oct-2018 14:13:39

data quality

High-quality electronic records contain complete and accurate information about each patient's health. When your data is correct, you can rely on it and make clinical decisions with confidence. However, missing, inaccurate or non-standard information can lead to inconsistent care.

Doctors record most of the information held in electronic medical records. Primary care clinicians aren't data experts though. We shouldn't assume they're aware how poor data quality can affect patient care.

There are national organisations that recognise the link between data quality and health outcomes. The pioneers include PRIMIS and the Professional Record Standards Body. Both encourage health services to focus on data quality because it leads to better care and easier collaboration across the NHS.

Missing diagnosis information is a common quality issue. You know a patient has a condition, but the corresponding clinical code isn't in their record. These anomalies can be a result of inconsistent coding or a lack of staff training, especially for locum doctors.

The consequences of missing diagnoses include:

  1. the risk of some patients not receiving appropriate care for chronic diseases
    inconsistent care
  2. practices miss out on income from QOF and local services
With a little effort, you can start to fix this and improve your data quality today. Here are three ways to get started.

1. Standardise care records

Encourage your doctors to use the same standard data entry templates. Data and clinical coding will be accurate and consistent between clinicians. The Vision+ templates are a great place to start. There are recommendations based on NICE guidelines, risk calculators and data capture tools. The standard data entry templates make it easy to record accurate information, quickly. BlueBay CT offers similar benefits if your practice uses EMIS or SystmOne.

Find out how to use Vision+ on The Hive.

2. Share best practice

It's normal for data quality to vary between clinicians. Sharing best practice can reduce these inconsistencies and improve your data quality. It's likely that some of your clinicians already record high-quality data. Ask them to show their colleagues how they work. If they're more proficient in using the clinical system, they can also pass on tips to reduce frustration.

Another option is to get a trainer in to show your GPs how to record quality data during consultations.

3. Validate your data

Sharing best practice and standardising data capture are great ways to improve your data quality. However, what can you do to add missing diagnosis information to your patient records? You can validate your data to find patient records with missing diagnostic codes and then add the appropriate information. You do this by creating searches that analyse your medical records. For example, you could investigate:

  • DEXA scan results to find patients with osteoporosis
  • Echocardiogram results to find heart failure patients

You can then review the patient records and, where necessary, add the appropriate diagnostic codes.

The £5k Challenge

If that sounds like hard work or you don't have the time, we can do it for youWe offer a service called the £5k Challenge.

One of our specialists visits your practice for a couple of days to analyse your records and identify patients that don't have appropriate diagnostic codes. They can then add the correct codes to your records. If you prefer, they can provide you with lists of patients to update yourself.

They'll leave you with a financial breakdown that shows how your practice income will increase.

All we need is a little time with one of your GPs at the beginning and end of each day to make sure they're comfortable with the coding changes.

Adding patients to your registers will increase prevalence, which increases the value of each QOF point within that domain. If you're already achieving maximum points, you can still improve your income. It's an annual increase. If you'd used the service in February 2016 and found £7,500 of extra income, you'd now have increased your revenue by £15,000.

The £5k Challenge isn't just about income:

  1. Improved coding ensures greater consistency when you monitor and manage patients. It ensures they receive the appropriate care for their medical conditions
  2. It identifies opportunities for ongoing training to make sure you don't repeat past mistakes

So far, we've helped practices earn more than £2.8 million. On average, each practice that uses the £5k challenge finds £6,750 of extra annual revenue.

So, why is it called the £5k challenge? If we don't find you we don’t find you the cost of the service we won’t charge you for the service. 

Take the £5k Challenge

Topics: General practice, Vision+, Training, 5k Challenge

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