Data: using and improving

Aim to get your data to a point where it is informing clinical and business improvement on a daily basis.

But you won't be able to sustain a data improvement activity on its own, so improve your data without even trying, just by using it in different ways (i.e. not just at the point it's collected).  

For example, make data a part of other processes and projects:

  • consider incorporating a review of data when a GP and nurse collaborate on a patient's health assessment. This will have the effect of making it easier to upload a Shared Health Summary because the data will already be in good shape.
  • design a good recall and reminder system based on data and use reminders. A good system automates where possible and is proactive, answering questions such as:
    • How many recalls were acted upon?
    • How many are more than 6 months old?
    • How many times did the GP have to think about the action vs how many were automatic? (When a GP is thinking about a recall then they are probably wasting their time. The process should be refined so that only clear and obvious information is marked for a recall or reminder.)
    • Also look for situations where nothing has been flagged. For example: subsequent to a vasectomy, has sperm activation been checked? If not, it should be marked as a reminder for when the patient next comes in.

Every time you use it, you will find things to clean up. So the more times you use it, the cleaner it will get. Just make sure each process and project allows an extra minute or two to do a bit of cleaning.

Data analysis tools such as POLAR GP and Pen CAT open up a window into your practice's data. Play around with them, because they will give you ideas and should start interesting conversations amongst the team. You will also quickly notice that the quality of the reports in POLAR and CAT depend on the quality of your data. 

More information:



Some of the key data elements to keep an eye on are: 

  1. Demographics
    • are the contact details up-to-date?
    • double-click on the patient’s telephone number to check & update details.
  2. Medication List
    • is the Current Meds list accurate?
    • right-click to delete/cease medications no longer relevant  (ceased or deleted meds can then be found in the Old/Past Scripts section)
    • if none, tick No medications
  3. Past History List
    • does it contain only significant conditions that a hospital or specialist would need to know?
    • right-click to edit, delete or add new
    • If none, tick No significant past history (PMH) box
  4. Allergies
    • have you also recorded adverse reactions?
    • double-click in allergies box and Add, Edit, Delete
    • if none, tick No Known Allergies/Adverse Reactions/Nil Known
  5. Immunisations
    • have immunisations been recorded?