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Diabetes BI tool delivers commissioning spend data to GPs

Brian McKenna

An online diabetes data dashboard has been made available to all GPs in England and Wales. 

Diabetes Practice Profiles (DPP) is a business intelligence (BI) tool, combining diabetes prescribing and ‘activity’ data.

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Dr Bob Young, clinical lead for the National Diabetes Audit and the National Diabetes Information Service (NDIS), which is hosting the tool, said: “At last, GPs can start to review and benchmark all their key diabetes data on one site."

Matt Cuff (pictured), managing director, Switchstance, a Sheffield-based data and document management consultancy that designed the system, explained that the introduction of GP commissioning has put doctors in the market for this kind of system. They can now see how their practices are doing against others, measuring treatment cost against outcomes.

Diabetes Practice Profiles “provides benchmarking and commissioning support through a graphical interface and will combine activity and prescribing data for the first time within the same system," he said.

DPP was developed by NHS Diabetes, NDIS, Yorkshire and Humber Public Health Observatory and the NHS Information Centre. 

Switchstance used a “free to not-for-profits” version of Highcharts JavaScript composed charts to build the dashboard, and PHP and MySQL to design the data store. 

This takes data from the National Diabetes Audit, prescribing information from the Department of Health, and data from the Hospital Episodes Statistics NHS service. This is the first time these data sets have been drawn together, said Cuff.

"The system provides the ability to drill down for detail and comparisons of resource versus outcome in scatter charts," says Cuff. "So this could be used on all diabetic blood testing items against a diabetes-specific blood sugar measurement. Or statins prescribed against good cholesterol levels." 

This means a practice can compare itself with regional and national averages, based on location as well as demographic groupings.

The free tool has been available since November 2012 to all 60,000 GPs in England and Wales.

Diabetes is a growing problem, set to affect one in 12 of the British population by 2020. An estimated 2.5 million people suffer from the condition in the UK, with a further 850,000 thought to be undiagnosed. Treatment accounts for an estimated 10% of the annual NHS budget.

"The software is generic”, said Cuff, “and could be used on other kinds of health data”.


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