Understanding the NHS Federated Data Platform

The digital health landscape in the UK has always been complex, with multiple organisations handling patient data across disparate systems to deliver care and manage services. This decentralised structure, while necessary, has posed challenges in information sharing and collaboration, often resulting in delays and inefficiencies. Recognising this, NHS England is procuring a new national solution: the Federated Data Platform (FDP).

What exactly is the FDP?

The Federated Data Platform is software that will sit across NHS trusts and integrated care systems allowing them to connect data they already hold in a secure and safe environment. The software will be ‘federated’ across the NHS. This means that every hospital and integrated care board will have their own version of the platform which can connect and collaborate with other data platforms as a ‘federation’. This means it will be easier for health and care organisations to work together, compare data, analyse it at different geographic, demographic and organisational levels and share and spread new effective digital solutions. The federated data platform is not a data collection; it is software that will help to connect disparate sets of data and allow them to be used more effectively for care.

The platform should be a game-changer, the FDP will eventually eliminate siloed data systems and open up a world of possibilities for streamlined care, enhanced decision-making, and improved patient outcomes. Imagine easier coordination among health and care organisations, quicker identification of community health needs, and smarter allocation of resources – all thanks to a platform that facilitates seamless data collaboration.

The current scattered data systems impede efficient care, delay patient treatments and burdening healthcare staff with administrative tasks. Through the federated data platform, the NHS aims to address these challenges, fostering more cohesive care coordination and unlock the potential for innovative healthcare solutions.

The vision for the Federated Data Platform is substantial – it’s not just about addressing immediate challenges; it’s about transforming healthcare delivery for the long term. It’s about utilising technology to its fullest potential for the benefit of patients and clinicians alike.

What are the benefits?

Early pilots have showcased reduced waiting times, faster diagnosis, and swifter discharges, resulting in better patient care. The FDP isn’t just about efficiency; it’s about patients spending less time worrying and waiting for treatments, going home faster, and being involved in decisions about their care. Ultimately, it’s about enabling clinicians to deliver the best possible patient-centred care and improving patient outcomes.

The Federated Data Platform is set to be more than just another piece of software; its benefits promise a revolution in healthcare data management in the UK, promising a future where patient care and innovation go hand in hand.

What are the drawbacks?

There are certainly sceptics of the FDP, and there are many noted concerns, for example: vendor lock-in, duplication in the system where ICSs have already procured a data platform, and lack of a solid business case and scope for the platform from NHS England.

What is the focus for the FDP?

The FDP will initially be focused on supporting the five key NHS priorities:

  1. Elective recovery – to address the backlog of people waiting for appointments or treatments.
  2. Care coordination – to enable the effective coordination of care between local health and care organisations and services, reducing the number of long stays in hospital.
  3. Vaccination and immunisation – to continue to support the vaccination and immunisation of vulnerable people while ensuring fair and equal access and uptake across different communities.
  4. Population health management – to help integrated care systems proactively plan services that meet the needs of their population.
  5. Supply chain management – to help the NHS put resources where they are needed most and buy smarter so that we get the best value for money.

At the moment no further uses will be allowed without further engagement between NHS England and the public, patient and stakeholder assurance and advisory groups.

Who supplies the FDP?

As we write this post it looks like the US analytics and AI firm Palantir and Accenture have been chosen as the winner of the £480m Federated Data Platform procurement, with an announcement expected imminently.

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