The Walton Centre

Data quality is always important, but it can be literally of life or death importance in the Health Sector. Patient care, confidentiality, performance monitoring and correct funding are all impacted by data accuracy. To ensure correct care and confidentiality, patient data needs to be accurate, complete and valid. Any staff member inputting data will need the tools in place to achieve this.

Clinical Accuracy
Incorrect patient information can detrimentally impact levels of care. Imagine the scenario of a patient attending hospital. Diagnosis and notes are passed to the patient’s registered GP and information regarding next steps, appointments, and treatment are sent to the patient. If information within the Patient Administration System (PAS) is incorrect then notification of appointments could be missed, or the GP may be unaware of their patient’s diagnosis and treatment, leading to a compromise in care.

Now picture the scene where confidential results of a medical test are sent to someone other than the intended recipient. That would be a very serious breach of data security. Or if someone received an incorrectly addressed embarrassing invitation to a clinic? What if it was your neighbour and it was meant for you? One wrong number being entered in an address can easily lead to such situations.

Certain data items are used in activity and performance measurement; any compromise in quality here will provide false information and affect plans of improvement to levels of care. As NHS organisations are naturally required to report patient activity accurately, if there is any question mark around quality of data, a trust could see a reduction in funding.

Understanding Accurate Patient Data
The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust is the only specialist hospital trust in the UK dedicated to providing comprehensive Neurology, Neurosurgery, spinal and pain management services. With one of the biggest and busiest Neurosurgery departments in the UK, they serve a catchment area of 3.5 million people across Merseyside, Cheshire, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, the Isle of Man, North Wales and beyond.

We caught up with Val Hayden, Patient Administration System & Data Quality Manager at The Walton Centre, to understand the critical importance of data accuracy within the sector. Jackie continued: “We have used AFD’s data controls for ten years now and have enjoyed a good working relationship. Recently, AFD implemented the inclusion of the OfS POLAR (Participation of Local Areas) data in AFD’s Refiner product, allowing us to automatically append this important data in a batch process. Since this data shows how likely young people are to participate in higher education according to where they live, we are then able to target specific areas with marketing efforts in a bid to meet targets for widening participation and essential funding.”

“The Centre has a data quality policy in place, part of the outworking of this policy is validating patient details within the PAS. This means any staff at The Centre who use the PAS and register patients requires the functionality to validate contact data at the point of entry.

Specifically, we use property level address validation from AFD Software and have had the solution in place for the past six years. We have over 500,000 patient records on the database and making sure all details of the patient’s full address are accurate is essential.

Along with accuracy, speed of data entry and the format it is stored in are also important for the Centre. Staff and patients alike benefit from faster data entry as time can be better spent on making patients feel comfortable and providing the correct level of care as opposed to filling out and doublechecking each part of their address. Storing data in the correct format means that addresses are more easily searchable, retrievable and reportable, further enforcing the data quality policy.” Key to the completion of the survey is its successful delivery to the intended recipient. The challenge rests with each Higher Education institution to hold accurate contact data of their alumni.

Why AFD?
Customer feedback helps AFD continually improve our services and better understand the datarelated pains specific to each industry. In the Health sector for example, ensuring patients are invited to receive essential care in a timely fashion via appointment letters in the post, and that private correspondence is sent to the right person.

When asked why AFD Software was chosen to replace their incumbent supplier Val answered;

“AFD simply offered more value than our incumbent supplier. Plus, we had a huge issue with data updates, our previous supplier used to produce quarterly CDs which were easily mislaid! We would have periods where staff would be manually inputting addresses which led to data quality issues and slowed the data entry. With AFD’s solution, the quarterly updates are applied automatically so we know we always have the latest data and aren’t subject to any interim periods of resorting to a slow, error-prone manual alternative.

AFD’s licensing of our requirements was clear and more competitive when we considered all the problems the AFD solution was overcoming.

Integrating within our PAS was remarkably quick and easy to setup – it took only a couple of hours, and caused us no headaches. Any planned upgrade can be met with hesitation when a business-critical system is being altered, but, having experienced how smooth the transition was for us, we would recommend other trusts to sit down with AFD and see how they can improve their data quality processes.”

For over 38 years AFD Software has been trusted by thousands of organisations across almost every sector to get their data right. Our solutions help ensure that your organisation is built upon the strong foundation of an accurate customer database. Specifically, we validate name, address, bank, email and telephone data.

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