UK – More than 100 healthcare organisations across England have signed up to receive digital mapping services under a ground-breaking NHS agreement.
They include primary care trusts, strategic health authorities, NHS trusts, cancer registries and all 11 English ambulance trusts.
The agreement, between the NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care and the mapping technologists Dotted Eyes, is intended to support the strategic planning, delivery and analysis of health services over the next four years.
It was launched after an EU procurement process that was designed to offer the NHS best value on a pre-tendered choice of products and data formats with minimum paperwork for users.
Dotted Eyes managing director Benjamin Allan said: ‘The agreement will provide vital support for all kinds of activities from designing patient-centred services to planning public health campaigns. By using the agreement to develop their location-based health intelligence, NHS organisations will have an excellent, highly-detailed basis for assessing trends, health inequalities, investment priorities and resource allocation.’
Tim Straughan, chief executive of the NHS Information Centre, said: ‘This agreement helps to ensure NHS organisations can access vital information, core to ensuring resources are used effectively and patients receive the best quality care. The data can be used to identify trends and health inequalities at a local level, helping empower NHS professionals in their day-to-day work.’
The NHS Digital Mapping Data Agreement covers products from several providers including postal and geographic address data, street level and road network maps, and boundary datasets. Users can tailor the portfolio to their own geographies so that they can analyse and present information by ward, parish, PCT, service boundary or other statistical area.
Data installers are helping non-technical managers in the user organisations by setting up all required files for rapid deployment in geographic information systems.
The agreement can support joint working between different parts of the NHS and with partners such as local authorities and central government. It also enables emergency data sharing between NHS organisations in situations such as major incident response and hospital bed shortages. These features reflect the strong emphasis on partnership working recommended in Lord Darzi’s recent NHS Next Stage Review – ‘High Quality Care for All’.
Ralph Smith, senior public health information specialist at Sandwell PCT, said: ‘Access to geographic information on the desktop is very important for PCTs and all other health bodies who analyse data in their work. The new agreement will support public health activity across the country on such issues as reducing obesity, encouraging healthier lifestyles and deciding where to site healthcare facilities.’
Dotted Eyes have begun an events programme to help NHS organisations get the most out of the agreement. A webinar aimed at performance managers in strategic health authorities is being held at 2.30pm on Tuesday, 16th December. For details, email [email protected] Public health analysts in PCTs can attend a free training day on Tuesday, 27th January, which will include case studies and technical masterclasses showing how mapping can be used in healthcare applications. The day is open both to members and PCTs who are eligible to join but who have not yet done so.