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Consistent data recording across a health system and web-enablement allow service quality comparisons: online data for commissioning dermatology services.

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  • 1Clinical Informatics & Health Outcomes Research Group, Department of Health Care Management and Policy, University of Surrey, GUILDFORD, GU2 7XH, UK.


A new distributed model of health care management is being introduced in England. Family practitioners have new responsibilities for the management of health care budgets and commissioning of services. There are national datasets available about health care providers and the geographical areas they serve. These data could be better used to assist the family practitioner turned health service commissioners. Unfortunately these data are not in a form that is readily usable by these fledgling family commissioning groups. We therefore Web enabled all the national hospital dermatology treatment data in England combining it with locality data to provide a smart commissioning tool for local communities. We used open-source software including the Ruby on Rails Web framework and MySQL. The system has a Web front-end, which uses hypertext markup language cascading style sheets (HTML/CSS) and JavaScript to deliver and present data provided by the database. A combination of advanced caching and schema structures allows for faster data retrieval on every execution. The system provides an intuitive environment for data analysis and processing across a large health system dataset. Web-enablement has enabled data about in patients, day cases and outpatients to be readily grouped, viewed, and linked to other data. The combination of web-enablement, consistent data collection from all providers; readily available locality data; and a registration based primary system enables the creation of data, which can be used to commission dermatology services in small areas. Standardized datasets collected across large health enterprises when web enabled can readily benchmark local services and inform commissioning decisions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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