The evidence-based medicine ‘DataLab’ combines traditional research and high-impact clinical informatics to help medical professionals apply evidence-based practice. It involves real-time comparison of clinical performance with a view to ‘nudging’ practitioner change and predicting clinical outliers. Our team is built around the principle of academic researchers, clinicians and high-end full-stack software engineers working closely together, pooling their skills and knowledge.
Our first demonstrator is www.OpenPrescribing.net, a live data service providing real-time insights into NHS prescribing data, launched in prototype in December 2015. We import, process and match large volumes of data from diverse sources. This database is then used to support freely available and widely used online interactive data tools and a research programme across four streams of work: practice variation; behaviour change; innovative informatics methods; and policy analysis on prescribing and informatics. Our research papers are listed at openprescribing.net/research.
At OpenPrescribing.net we provide a suite of widely used interactive data explorer tools, with live data updating every month. Our tools include: dashboards with over 100 safety, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness measures for every individual practice and CCG in England; our innovative ‘price per unit’ tool that identifies a previously undocumented class of £200m in savings; a bespoke data analysis tool that allows any user to explore trends and outliers for any drug, down to individual GP practice level; our ‘long-term trends’ explorer, with 20 years of prescribing data; dashboards on out-of-stock medicines; our ‘tariff explorer’; our ‘alerts’ service that uses statistical process control techniques to give early warning of deteriorating performance.
OpenPrescribing.net served millions of graphs and analyses to 130,000 unique users over the past year, including clinicians, policymakers, researchers, patients and the public.
Achievements to date:
- We are continually enhancing our live data tools to assist the NHS in using them to monitor and improve prescribing. Additions include dashboard ‘categories’, new measures, new tools to monitor the cost impact of drug price concessions and new dashboards for broader geographies including STPs, regions and the whole of England.
- We have published 17 papers on: the innovative informatics methods we have developed, practice-level variation in prescribing, and prescribing policy and how clinical practice is changed in the NHS.
- We supported TPP (major primary care software providers – SystmOne) to identify issues and make changes to software, with the aim of minimising inadvertent branded prescribing, saving NHS money.
- We have conducted two randomised controlled trials and one cohort study to measure the impact of proactively sending clinicians information on their prescribing; observational research evaluating the impact of our tools and other interventions; published work showing positive change in prescribing at GP practices where OpenPrescribing.net tool is used.
- We have expanded our policy work and campaign for better use of data in healthcare more broadly through new posts and stronger links with the NHS.
- Dr Goldacre was appointed chair of Health Technology Advisory Board for Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, also on Ministry of Justice Data, Evidence and Science Board.
Dr Ben Goldacre, Professor Carl Heneghan, Professor Richard Hobbs
Dr Ben Goldacre, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, Radcliffe Primary Care Building, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6GG