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  • Lloyd Price

NHS publishes details of what the Federated Data Platform will do and how Patient Data be used

The Federated Data Platform (FDP) 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. GP data will not be part of the national platform. FDP does not change data controllership arrangements so if there is data sharing agreement between integrate care system (ICS) and GPs locally to share data for care co-ordination then they can use the local version of FDP for that purpose.

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 makes it 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.

Why do we need a federated data platform?

The NHS is made up of multiple organisations that use data every day to manage patient care and plan services. Historically, it has been held in different systems that do not speak to each other, creating burden for staff and delays to patient care. It also makes it difficult to work at scale and share information.

Better use of data brings big benefits for patients by ensuring more joined up care, greater choice and improved health outcomes, and ultimately saving lives.

Feedback from patients has shown that we need to make it easier for staff to access the information they need, freeing up time to invest in delivering the best care possible for patients and facilitating the rollout of innovations taking place across the healthcare system.

The Federated Data Platform will provide software to link these NHS trusts and regional systems and give us a consistent technical means of linking data that is already collected for patient care. Clinicians will easily have access to the information they need to do their job – in one place – freeing up time spent on administrative tasks and enabling them to deliver the most appropriate care for patients. GP data will not be part of the national platform. FDP does not change data controllership arrangements so if there is data sharing agreement between integrated care system (ICS) and GPs locally to share data for care co-ordination then they can use the local version of FDP for that purpose.

What will the Federated Data Platform do?

Every trust and integrated care board will have their own platform, with the capability to connect and share information between them where this is helpful. This could include the number of beds in a hospital, the size of waiting lists for elective care services, staff rosters, or the availability of medical supplies.

The Federated Data Platform will initially be focused on supporting 5 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.

How will patient data be used?

No new data will be collected. Existing data will be used for analysing activity, auditing quality, planning service delivery, and service analysis to improve patient outcomes.

For example, Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust has used new software in its gynaecology department to track patients with suspected cancer through to diagnosis and first treatment, which has reduced the waiting time for a first appointment by an average of two days and cut the overall time to diagnosis. That’s two days less that patients spent worrying and waiting to find out what the next steps in their treatment will be.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is using software to monitor all admitted patients and assess any potential barriers to discharge. The system has freed up almost 10 hours of clinician time each week and resulted in patients going home faster, with long stays (over 21 days) falling by more than a third (36%).

How does this fit with Palantir’s Foundry platform, which is currently used?

Palantir provides NHS England with data management platform services (Foundry) which were procured to provide the national organisations responsible for coordinating the response to COVID-19 with secure, reliable and timely data – in a way that protects the privacy of our citizens – in order to make informed, effective decisions.

We learned huge lessons through our COVID-19 response and started to use data to work smarter – to anticipate the virus, protect the most vulnerable, put resources where they were needed and deliver the largest vaccination programme in NHS history. Such an efficient and effective response was only possible because of investment in digital systems. The opportunity now is to apply what we have learned to both managing our elective recovery and our long-term challenges.

The investment in a federated data platform will provide local health and care organisations with a technical architecture that enables them to make the most of the information they hold to transform care and improve outcomes for patients.

NHS England has recently awarded a 12 month transition contract to Palantir to support the successful transition from the current Palantir Foundry platform to the new Federated Data Platform and Associated Services (FDP-AS) supplier. The Foundry platform was used during Covid-19 pandemic to support reporting and vaccination programmes, more recently it has also been used to test the viability of a number pilots for FDP.

This is to provide the safe and smooth transition and exit service of critical products that were developed to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic (for Covid-19 and elective recovery purposes), to alternative provisions, including the transition of products to the new FDP-AS supplier following completion of the procurement process and contract award.


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