Dr Foster is helping drive improved safety and a reduction in clinical variation in maternity and women’s services by collecting and analysing data to pinpoint where improvements can be made. Working with midwives and maternity leads, our new bespoke consultancy service for obstetrics and gynaecology has been developed by experts with first-hand knowledge of the challenges facing services.
Dr Foster Consultant Marianne Tankard is a former midwife and has led the innovation along with colleague Penny Booysen, also a former midwife. She says many obstetrics departments currently find themselves bombarded with performance data but collating and cross-referencing this can be onerous. In addition, there is often minimal benchmarking with peers or against the national picture, which would be useful.
“Much of the data is very out of date and some popular measures of quality such as emergency readmissions, long length of stay and mortality don’t work for maternity services. Maternity services are usually accessed by fit and healthy women. There are lots of other metrics that are useful so we are pulling them together in one place and providing the appropriate benchmarking these services really need.”
Our consultancy service looks at hundreds of different metrics, overlaying them with case mix data and data from national improvement programmes, highlighting where trusts are outliers and giving them a basis to start benchmarking. With indicators attached to each area, data can be analysed in detail allowing trusts to drill down into each subject to see where the problems really lie. The service focuses on benchmarking in three areas:
Using case mix data offers a unique opportunity to help trusts discover why there is variation with other trusts. For example, there is always likely to be variance between specialist hospitals with sicker patients and district general hospitals which are likely to have more straightforward cases.
By overlaying case mix data, we can provide evidence for this variation between hospitals and help trusts understand why they are outliers. The service is bespoke for each trust and aims to address specific problems. Marianne says: “We find out where their challenges are, analyse the data and then report back highlighting where we think improvements can be made, highlighting where the trust should focus its time and effort.”