Federated data platform progress update and procurement announcement in autumn

NHS England has published a blog post by Ming Tang, chief data and analytics officer at NHS England, to highlight it expects to announce the successful supplier for its procurement of software to connect data across the NHS in a “federated data platform” in autumn.

Considering the case for ensuring that every part of the country has the ability to harness data for the benefit of their patients to be “overwhelmingly strong”, NHSE has been engaging with the public, system partners and stakeholders to help design what the national system should look like.

Several successful pilots have revealed “impressive results” in reducing waiting lists faster and discharging patients from hospital more quickly, with one trust reducing the number of patients spending 21 days or more in hospital beds to 12 percent, against a national average of 20 percent, the blog highlights.

The blog goes on to detail the programme moving to the next phase of delivery, where a public and patient advisory group to support the programme will be formed. In the coming weeks there will also be the development of a patient promise ‘data pact’, described as a key commitment in the Data saves lives: reshaping health and care with data strategy (2022). It adds “as the programme moves from procurement to implementation, we will also be taking part in the national engagement programme on health data due to start in early 2024”.

On privacy and data safety, the blog highlights the procurement process for a new NHS PET solution – to apply privacy enhancing techniques such as data minimisation and de-identification. This is said to “ensure that personal identifiers are removed from datasets where appropriate to protect patient confidentiality” and for “access to NHS health and social care data be carefully controlled”.

Here, the blog adds the need to ensure open data standards are part of the programme, and to avoid vendor lock-in. It states: “As technology has evolved, we have learnt how important interoperability – or how these systems can ‘talk to’ each other –­ is. It’s vital that any platform we develop maintains flexibility to tap into solutions from a range of suppliers.” The blog continue to note, this will “help avoid vendor lock-in, allowing us to move to a different supplier in the future without disruption.”

In May, we looked at some of the key questions and challenges surrounding the procurement of the Federated Data Platform, highlighting concerns about data access and oversight, leadership, transparency and trust.

We covered the announcement of NHSE’s £35 million PET tender back in June, which could potentially include cloud-based software as a service solutions capable of providing data privacy and protection for the FDP and the wider NHS.

Our August panel discussion with Stephen Slough, chief digital information officer at Dorset ICS; Paul Charnley, digital lead at Healthy Wirral Partners; and Esther Ocrah, director at GE HealthCare Command Centre Europe; looked at taking a data-driven approach to operational improvements and the benefits of data use for proactive care.

To learn more about NHSE’s federated data platform, please click here.