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Beautiful Information commissioned by NHSI to automate data collection in every English Trust’

All NHS trusts will have their daily situation reports (SitRep) automatically collected by NHS Improvement from October 2017.

SitReps are collected from acute trusts each weekday during winter, through manual data entry on areas such as A&E closures and diverts, cancelled operations or bed pressures.

The automated data collection was announced 21 June, and NHS Improvement is claiming that more than 36,000 man hours will be saved each year through the transition.

The software has been developed by NHS Improvement and data solutions provider, Beautiful Information, and has been trialled at more than 40 trusts to date.

Trusts are being informed of the move in a letter delivered Wednesday.

In it, Adam Sewell-Jones, executive director of improvement at NHS Improvement, said the system involves the auto-population of a web-form, that trusts can also add data to or overwrite if necessary.

There will be a five-day window for resubmitting data over the previous five days.

In a statement provided to Digital Health News, Jim Mackey, chief executive at NHS Improvement referred to the large data collection as a burden on trusts.

“We know that manually uploading data places a large burden on trusts, and we wanted to develop something that reduces that burden, while also providing trusts with something in return.”

In January, Peter Sinden joined both the Care Quality Commission and NHS Improvement as their chief digital officer to ensure data consistency across both organisations. In an interview with Digital Health News, he said he wanted reduce the data burden on trusts and referenced automated A&E statistics.

The data collected will also be used in an “emergency care dashboard” , which will visualise where bottlenecks are and signal to NHS Improvement where support is needed.

Mackey said the move “will also help us to provide targeted support to trusts during the winter period.”

NHS Improvement is responsible for holding providers to account.

Taj Hassan, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, welcomes the new technology.

“The improved emergency care dashboard will help trusts to better understand where there may be problems with patient flow and help guide decisions on how to improve conditions for patients.”

A 2013 Challenging Bureaucracy report, commissioned by health secretary Jeremy Hunt, found that administrative staff spend up to 20 hours a week finding data for nationally-mandated returns and reports to regulatory bodies.

The report said that data collection costs each trust an average of £1.4 million a year, bringing the total yearly cost for the NHS to between £300 million and £500 million.

NHS Improvement said it hoped that all NHS data would be collected this way in the future.

Beautiful Information is a company that has been created by the Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network, East Kent University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Ashford and St Peter’s NHS Foundation Trust.

Marc Farr, its founder, said he hope the technology provides “more time to develop insight rather than simply reporting data”.

Sewell-Jones concludes his letter by describing it as a “ground breaking project”, which will deliver significant benefits to the trusts.

NHS Improvement is the operational name for the organisation that brings together Monitor, NHS Trust Development Authority, Patient Safety, the National Reporting and Learning System, the Advancing Change team and the Intensive Support Teams.