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Netcompany: How Basic Data is a Catalyst for Change and Improving Public Services
The digitisation of public services is at the very top of the government agenda, but the lack of accessible and reliable data, such as core information about individuals and businesses, creates huge challenges for digital administration. This information, known as basic data (registers), is re-used throughout the public sector and is an important foundation for public authorities to perform their tasks properly and efficiently. Not least because an ever-greater number of tasks must be performed digitally and across departments and sectors. Without accurate and accessible basic data, truly joined-up services will be near on impossible to deliver.
Basic data is structured fundamental data that is common for many purposes. It can include contact details and personal information such as DoB, NI numbers, etc. This type of data is used repeatedly, across the entire public sector and is essential for public authorities to efficiently perform tasks like collecting taxes, administering healthcare, or paying welfare benefits.
High-quality basic data needs to be accurate, complete, and up to date. Establishing a common basic data infrastructure for public sector administration, which can be updated in one place and used by everyone, delivers huge societal benefits and will be the real catalyst for change within public services. For example, managing data in this way would mean that citizens no longer need to re-type the same information every time they use a public self-service solution, and in turn, this enables public sector employees to work more efficiently.
The NHS patient treatment backlog, exacerbated by the pandemic, is estimated to be about 6.1 million in England and is predicted to increase to 10 million by 2024. The adoption of basic data to support important NHS services will help to reduce these backlogs. This also includes providing services for healthcare providers with up-to-date patient records so that public health bodies can build reliable and trusted data sources that are automatically updated across various registers.
The challenge is the lack of a widely adopted government ID that is linked to the health records of patients. Existing registers are reliant on patients maintaining their health records by visiting their GP. This poses a challenge for communicating vital treatment information to the public because healthy citizens visit their GP far less frequently than vulnerable or elderly people. It is a difficult transition moving from a local GP service to a centralised model for around 68 million people.
Basic data also reduces the pressure on GPs, giving them time back to directly help patients rather than getting bogged down with administration. The NHS has started to implement text and email-based communications and has seen a huge number of improvements - of around 1.1 million updates made to details by citizens themselves. From the start of the pandemic, the NHS saw the number of citizen-held email addresses rise from 31 to 45 percent, and records of mobile numbers rose from 81 to 87 percent.
The types of information are also expanding within these registers. Historically data was based on sex and age, but there are increasing opportunities to collaborate with other departments which enables more innovation, better detection of illness patterns and communication on upcoming or missed appointments.
Ultimately our public services will only be reformed by removing burdensome administration and by digitising as many aspects as possible, focusing energy and capital where it will have the greatest societal impact. This is where harnessing basic data will be a real catalyst for change.
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Guest blog by Prahlad Koti, Partner at Netcompany. Prahlad is responsible for driving digital innovation across the UK public and private sectors, and working with customers to achieve true business transformation by adopting world-leading IT solutions. To learn more about Netcompany, please visit their LinkedIn and Twitter.
On Tuesday 5 April, techUK was delighted to host the Cabinet Office and industry representatives for the launch event for the UK Government’s Digital, Data and Technology Sourcing Playbook which was published on 28 March 2022. The DDaT Sourcing Playbook sets out guidance – in one place – as to how digital projects and programmes are assessed, procured and delivered in central government departments, arms-length bodies and the wider public sector. Through the application of what is commercial best practice, the Playbook addresses 11 key policies and six cross-cutting priorities that will ensure government gets things right from the start when it comes to procurement.
You can watch the recording of the launch event in full here:
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