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Community intelligence needs urgent attention says CHKS Advisory Board

The inaugural CHKS Advisory Board Report, published today has called for a greater focus on data which is currently collected to create actionable community intelligence and to encourage greater integration between services.

The board was united in its view that quality community intelligence is vital to facilitate closer alignment between healthcare systems and therefore more joined-up care. This, in turn, will allow targeted interventions and care by providing a clear picture of resource use and patient pathways, encouraging leaders to take a more holistic view of care services and outcomes.

The report is the first in a series from the board discussion of the current challenges within the NHS. The role community intelligence will play in effective integration between health and social care is a pressing issue, given the ongoing pressures facing primary and secondary care systems. Integration is a core ambition for the NHS moving forward, highlighted by last year’s Long Term Plan, in which it was a central theme.

The board’s combined collective experience lends weight to its assertion that greater attention needs to be given to the quality of community intelligence in order to meet this ambition.

The report made several recommendations for moving forward. Organisations should work together to agree standardised performance metrics that allow for consistent community data collection. At a local level, standardised data collection will enable ongoing, accurate measurement of outcomes and effectiveness of community health interventions. It will also allow benchmarking across community services, which is useful in driving sustainable improvements.

Cross-boundary data sharing will be crucial if community intelligence is to aid effective integration, but a key factor is the accessibility of community intelligence across disparate organisations and systems. Worries around data confidentiality and privacy present significant obstacles, so finding solutions that make it easy to share data securely should be a priority.

Access to data is one challenge, but overcoming this will be futile if organisations lack the skills to use data in a useful way. Bringing analytical talent on board to interpret and draw actionable insights from data is, therefore, also essential.

There are undoubtedly a number of barriers to better community intelligence collection and sharing, but improving this will go a long way towards building truly integrated healthcare.

The Advisory Board was formed to ensure CHKS (the healthcare intelligence and improvement experts of Capita) continues to meet the needs of health and social care organisations. Board members are senior leaders working in health and social care. To read the full Advisory Board report, click here. If you would like to find out more about the work we do with commissioners and providers to develop better insight from routinely collected data click here