NHS Digital has signed a contract for £ 4.5 million with a provider who hopes to be able to “transform” the use of health demographic data.
The key goal of the work will be to expand the use of NHS numbers, which will make it easier for service providers to access and update patient information.
The agreement with the Danish software firm Netcompany is designed to improve NHS Digital’s personal demographic service, as well as to make greater use of demographic information by health services.
The work will cover “several initiatives aimed at increasing the use of NHS numbers in digital services by facilitating API search” and supporting the intention to “improve the quality of demographic data and improve the timeliness and accuracy of mortality”.
The text of the contract, which came into force in July 2021 but has only just been published, identifies several likely drafts.
Supporter-supported initiatives will include “digitization of registration practices with GPs to eliminate transcription errors [by] replacement of instruction forms for general medical services ”.
Meanwhile, work on improving the API is aimed at improving “tracking” so that users can better find their NHS number when providing other personal information such as name, date of birth and contact information. The goal is to improve this matching ratio with a range of online services – including vaccination and Covid booking websites and NHS 111 counseling services – that currently put users up to the correct NHS number at around 60- 80% of the time, according to the contract.
There is also a desire to improve the performance of matching incoming deaths with NHS demographics; the current level of 95% means that there is currently a “critical loss of information, including missed and false reports of death”.
NHS Digital also wants to work with Netcompany to better enable “third-party healthcare systems … in trusts and care homes … to find contact information or confirm NHS numbers or update patient information”.
The agreement will be valid for an initial period of two years.