Pre-Hospital Emergency Department Data Sharing

We have just completed a research project, funded by the Health Foundation. PHED Data (the Pre-Hospital Emergency Department Data Sharing Project) aimed to understand how information about patients can be best used by us, acute trusts and commissioners.

The project linked ambulance data to hospital data to better understand what happens to patients after ambulance staff leave them at the hospital’s emergency department. It demonstrated that greater information-sharing can lead to significant patient benefits, without compromising confidentiality.

Background

Excluding small patient groups, such as those having a pre-hospital cardiac arrest, we do not hold information about what happens to patients after they leave the ambulance.

Our clinicians care for people in life-changing situations and rarely get to know if their care had a positive impact. This is not just a matter of paramedic training or morale (although these are important), the benefits of patient outcome data means that the service as a whole has a better opportunity to understand the impact of our care on all patients.

We conducted a small feasibility pilot which, with the necessary agreements and security, demonstrated that non-identifiable information from the acute trust’s emergency department can be linked to LAS data.

For the first time in England, all the steps of a patient journey, from the 999 call to their outcome in the emergency department, can be mapped. The pilot also showed that data linkage was possible and indicated a potential range of benefits to both organisations.

PHED Data

We received research funding from The Health Foundation to expand the pilot. The project team was made up of our staff and researchers from Swansea University, the Nuffield Trust and Kingston University and St. George’s, The University of London.

The project ran for two years from May 2015. We approached six more acute trusts across London and asked them for outcome data, which we linked to our existing records. We then analysed the resulting data set through a series of work packages looking at:

  • Response times
  • How other healthcare professionals use our services
  • Patient groups that are acutely unwell in the ambulance
  • Patient groups that are not acutely unwell in the ambulance

We also conducted a series of focus groups and interviews with staff from across the NHS to help us interpret the findings. From this we produced a report and a series of recommendations.

Through PHED Data, we hope to demonstrate that greater information sharing can yield significant patient benefits without compromising patient confidentiality. It is essential that partnerships between the LAS and acute trusts continue to strengthen and that data sharing plays a key role in improving that process.

Information for patients

Will this change my treatment?
No. There will be no change to treatments. The data sharing happens after your care is completed.

Will personal information be shared?
No. Any personal information collected by the LAS and the emergency departments as part of your care will be treated in accordance with the organisations’ standard confidential information handling policies. This project does not use personally identifiable data; it analyses trends rather than individual patient journeys. We will share non-personally identifiable information with our research partners only.

What will happen to the results of the evaluation?
We have produced a full report and summary of the project, along with an infographic which we will publish on the LAS website in the new year.

We also aim to publish the findings in peer-reviewed journals.

Who has reviewed this project?
The project has been evaluated by an independent group at the Faculty Research Ethics Committee, Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education at Kingston and St George’s University, University of London to protect your safety, rights, and dignity. This committee has given a favourable opinion.

It has governance approval through the Health Research Authority. We also had a patient and public panel that met every six months to ensure that the views of the patient and/or public were represented at every stage of project.

Where can I find more information about the project?

If you want more information about the project please contact the principal investigator, Sophie Clark, at sophie.clark@londonambulance.nhs.uk or by post to:

Sophie Clark
The Medical Directorate
London Ambulance Service
220 Waterloo Road
London SE1 8SD