If you have not heard about PHIN, the Private Health Information Network, we suggest it is only a matter of time before you do! The team at Designated Medical have been digging deeper and we are keen to share our perception of PHIN and why all our private consultants should be well informed about their role.
PHIN state that over the next five years they will be the first service for patients searching for private medical care. PHIN is an independent, government mandated organisation with an objective to empower patients and provide robust information about private healthcare.
Powerful Tool for Patients
PHIN is an incredibly powerful tool for patients, enabling them to search for the procedure they need to have and refine their search by various factors location and funding mechanism. The information provided for each hospital includes an overall performance rating from “outstanding” to “requires improvement”. This rating is their Care Quality Commission rating, the regulator of hospitals in England (or the equivalent in the devolved nations). The measures based on the data submitted are activity volumes, length of stay, and patient satisfaction – based on the NHS Friends and Family Test. These, taken alongside the CQC rating, will provide information to reassure patients about their recommended care, or help empower their conversations with GPs or referring clinicians.
Many hospitals are currently listed as “no data available” or “no published data” which effectively means they would be excluded by any prospective patient.
We searched for “laparoscopy” in London and found there were three hospitals rated as outstanding which were; The London Bridge Hospital, The Harley Street Clinic, and The Royal Marsden Hospital. We all agreed we would limit our search of consultants to those who practised at one of these hospitals only. For this reason alone, it is imperative that consultants ensure that their hospitals submit the required information
To date 200 private hospitals are included and required to submit performance information and private consultants will be required to do the same in 2018.
What is the PHIN mandate?
According to their website….
“PHIN believes that providing patients with easy to understand information about the quality and safety of care in private healthcare is vital. “
PHIN have been working with 200 independent hospitals since 2012 to develop a way of collecting and publishing information.
In 2014, an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found that the information available to people considering private healthcare was inadequate. The CMA is the UK regulator of business competition, and is responsible for protecting consumers from unfair behaviour by companies.
The CMA went on to publish the Private Healthcare Market Investigation Order 2014 which imposes a duty on hospitals to submit data to PHIN which is now enforced by a legal mandate granted to PHIN.
What Performance Information is published?
The CMA has specified 11 performance measures for PHIN to publish at both hospital and consultant level which includes volumes of procedures performed, average length of stay, infection rates, readmission rates, mortality rates, unplanned patient transfers and the frequency of adverse events.
Membership is made up of hospitals providing privately funded healthcare, including many NHS hospitals. There are 300 UK hospitals groups covering more than 500 private healthcare facilities that are subject to the CMA’s Order and required to become PHIN members.
Funding is achieved via subscription by the private hospitals involved.
Working with professional bodies
PHIN are working with professional bodies to ensure the performance reporting requirements are relevant and fair.
These include: –
- FIPO – Federation of Independent Practitioner Organisations
- BMA British Medical Association
- IDF Independent Doctors Federation
- FSSA Federation of Specialist Surgical Associations
- BOA British Orthopaedic Association
- BAUS British Association of Urological Surgeons
The major insurance companies are also engaged in the work of PHIN.
All UK consultants active in private practice as “referring clinicians” are subject to the CMA’s Order although this is not well known currently and the PHIN are working to address this.
The submission of data will be the responsibility of each hospital but each consultant will be asked to sign off their information as a fair and accurate representation of their practice before it is published. This information will be published on the PHIN website from April 2018.
We recommend that you check the PHIN website to see what is currently published about the hospitals you currently practice at. Hopefully you will see an “outstanding” rating already displayed but if that is not the case you may wish to explore further to ensure the results do not affect you as an individual.
If your hospital is yet to publish data, then we would be concerned about this. No information could be equivalent to a poor rating in many patient’s eyes.
And finally, be aware of your involvement in the coming months. To find out more check out their website in detail: https://www.phin.org.uk/home