What this means for people

A connected and more efficient NHS ultimately means a better service for patients and service users. It means reduced waiting times and more timely treatment as well as more flexibility and choice about how and where people access services and receive care.

A federated data platform benefits patients and service users

A federated data platform will make local, regional and national teams more efficient and joined up – helping people to stay healthier and independent for longer.

Here are some examples of how a federated data platform could be used to benefit you:

Care coordination

A federated data platform will help connect organisations who need to work together to provide a good service for patients. This means that those in charge of a person’s care will be able to see what that person’s requirements and care needs are. Doctors, nurses, carers and other health professionals will still be the people who decide what care is needed, but the platform will help them make better, more informed decisions.

I’m not being discharged from hospital even though I am well enough to leave. The hospital has spent a lot of time calling different care homes to see if there is a spare bed.

A federated data platform will make it easier for the team looking after me in hospital, because they will be able to see where there are available beds in a care home within my local community or a space on a virtual ward. My doctor and I can then decide whether I should be discharged into a care home, or whether I should return home to be cared for virtually on a virtual ward.

Elective recovery

A federated data platform will help local teams better prioritise waiting lists, manage theatre capacity and identify their staffing needs. It will help local planners make more effective use of their resources such as theatres, ensuring that all available slots are used to treat patients and reduce the elective backlog.

A federated data platform will provide more choice and speed up appointment booking. If a theatre slot becomes available at a nearby hospital, patients with the greatest need can be offered an appointment earlier. Decisions will still be agreed between patients and the NHS staff caring for them, but the platform will help everyone to understand the situation in the local area.

Currently, the staff responsible for scheduling theatre operations for patients need to log into multiple systems to see who should be booked in, who is on shift to perform operations and where there are available theatre slots in the hospital.

A federated data platform will increase visibility of this information into one place so those scheduling appointments can easily see where theatres slots that weren’t previously being utilised are available. I feel better knowing that theatre slots aren’t going to waste and that I will receive my treatment as quickly as possible.

The team at my hospital will also be able to give me more notice for when my appointment is so I can plan this around my life. If an appointment became available at a nearby hospital sooner, I could be offered this as an alternative and receive my treatment earlier.

Population health management

A federated data platform will help local health and care teams to understand the health of the people in their community. For example, how many people could be affected by an illness like diabetes or asthma and what help might support those people; even before any illness develops.

There are more than 20 leg, foot or toe amputations each day due to diabetes. This is shocking, especially as four out of five of these amputations are preventable. It’s important that people with diabetes know how to look after their feet and get the right treatment at the right time in the right place.

Using the federated data platform, NHS staff will not only be able to more easily see how many people in my area have diabetes, but also understand how many people are accessing the support on offer and how well it is working (whether support is reducing unnecessary amputations). As a result, I might receive a personalised invitation to access additional support, including an annual foot check, advice, and the medical support I need.

Vaccination and immunisation

The COVID-19 vaccination programme – the largest vaccination programme in NHS history – is delivered using a data platform (purchased to specifically support our pandemic response). The data platform is used to manage the vaccine supply and ensure there is adequate stock available for the number of vaccinations booked in at each vaccination site. The platform can also track the number of vaccinations administered across England by geography, gender, ethnicity, disability and deprivation.

This meant that local teams could act quickly to work with communities that weren’t accessing vaccines. A federated data platform will enable us to continue to improve the way we deliver vaccinations and immunisations, not just for COVID-19 but also for flu and other diseases. 

As a Muslim, I was concerned that the COVID-19 vaccine would invalidate my fast during Ramadan, as were many of my friends and family. By using the COVID-19 data platform, my local NHS team noticed that there was low uptake of vaccines within the Muslim community and research told them that my community was at higher risk of severe illness. The NHS worked with my local mosque to run a pop-up clinic to encourage uptake of the vaccine amongst our community.

A federated data platform will help the NHS in England to better understand if there are certain people within my community who haven’t received other vaccines and immunisations that they are eligible for and make services available at times and locations that better suit their lifestyle.

Supply chain management

A federated data platform will make it easier to see where critical supplies (such as protective masks, medication and equipment) are, how much is available, and where there are shortages. This means that items can be moved between hospitals or allocated to areas that need them the most. It also means the NHS can track how much needs to be purchased overall and buy in bulk, which will save everyone time and money.

Right now, most hospitals don’t have a system to manage records of supplies. This means that if one department runs out of out of something, they order more without knowing if another department has more.

When I was in hospital, my ward ran out of bed pans, and there was a delay while they had to order more. They later found out that a ward on another floor had plenty spare. A federated data platform would make sure that this situation happens less often. It will help hospitals in my local region share supplies with each other too.

NHS staff will only be able to access information about you if it is relevant and needed for their job.

For example, if a specialist needs information about your condition, or if your local trust needs to contact you about an operation, they will have access to information about you. However, if an analyst at a national level is gathering population health data for planning purposes, they will only have access to data which has been de-identified so that it cannot identify you.

Only authorised users will be granted access to data for approved purposes. Access to data will never be provided for marketing or insurance purposes.

The goal is to give health and care providers the information they need at their fingertips, while maintaining the highest standards of confidentiality.

If you don’t want your data to be used for reasons other than your individual care, you can opt out using the national data opt out.

Further information