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Header image for the current page Magic Numbers

Magic Numbers

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Data analysis might not sound like the thrilling of subjects, but there are plenty of reasons why it should be on your agenda, says Helen Seth, Associate Director of Business Intelligence at Arden & GEM Commissioning Support Unit.

A recent report published by the Kings Fund identifies that the workload for NHS GP practices has increased substantially in recent years and has not been matched by growth in either funding or in workforce. A significant increase in demand for consultations is compounded by the growing complexity of health conditions as people are living longer, and the challenges of recruiting new GPs, practice managers and other practice staff.

Like all areas of the NHS, GP practices need to achieve better outcomes, in less time and at a lower cost. That’s where patient data can prove extremely useful – but only if it’s delivered and governed in the right way.

Practices need a better understanding of their patients and a better understanding of the interventions that work. Robust data can fuel good decisions, saving both time and money and ultimately improving patient care.

Collaborative solutions

The Arden & GEM Business Intelligence team was recently asked to develop a prescribing data report for practices in Lincolnshire. Lincolnshire West CCG wanted to understand what practices were prescribing and whether or not they were within budget.

Having worked with practice managers and GPs, we knew that analysing and presenting prescribing data differently presented a real opportunity to give practices and CCGs meaningful information which could directly support better patient care.

In agreement with Lincolnshire West CCG, we approached Lincolnshire East CCG to broaden the reach of the tool to include real insight into the reasons behind variances between practices.

We developed a suite of reports built on a flexible, dashboard-based model within our popular GEMIMA BI system. The reports allow CCGs to look at spend and variances overall, by medication and by practice. GP practices can interrogate why particular prescribing decisions have been made.

The suite of reports available include:


Making it meaningful for practices

We wanted this report to be intuitive and responsive to different practice needs. That’s why we designed the tool as a flexible suite of reports with simple user interaction using the Tableau Platform. Since its launch in September 2016, practices have already begun to identify opportunities to take proactive action to address budget issues.

Wider benefits

Arden & GEM has recently launched a new emergency care dashboard. This enables practices to analyse their patients’ use of the 111 service. We have also begun working with practices on a new outpatient report which will show what proportion of patients referred to a hospital specialist are discharged after the first appointment.

Why does data matter?

Our experience of working with GP practices suggests that tools which support efforts to improve patient care and find more efficient ways of working are in high demand. Arden & GEM has taken a deliberate approach to building reports utilising Tableau as it provides impactful visualisation of what is happening and is easy to use. With the reports embedded into our existing GEMIMA system, this not only ensures that practices have one true data source but is crucial in enabling practices to interrogate their own data according to their needs.

Two-way relationship

The Arden & GEM BI team is positively encouraged to get out and about meeting practice managers and GPs, often at locality meetings. We have found that working directly with the people using our system means we can ensure you have the opportunity to interrogate us and get a real understanding of how to make the reports work for you.

This is a summary of an article written for Management in Practice. For the full article, visit http://www.managementinpractice.com/magic-numbers

For more information about Arden & GEM’s Business Intelligence services for CCGs and GP practices, please click here.

Picture of Helen Seth

Author: Helen Seth |


Helen is responsible for the operational management of our business intelligence service. A diagnostic radiographer by background, Helen has over 29 years’ experience in NHS provider organisations including service delivery, operations management , corporate strategy and system wide transformation.  Most recently she has been implementation lead for long term conditions as part of the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Better Care Together programme.