Over the next five years funding for the NHS will increase by 3.4%, compared to a historical 5-year average of 2.2% (see long-term plan). But productivity growth remains as important as ever: one of the challenges set out in the Long-Term plan, is for the NHS to make productivity gains of at least 1.1% per year over the next five years.
To help build a growing and thriving NHS for years to come, the NHS needs to invest to drive productivity gains – shifting the “production possibility frontier” outwards.
Many of the largest gains in productivity can be attributed to changes in clinical practice. For instance, the GIRFT (Getting It Right First Time) programme has projected a potential savings of £1.5 billion by 2021 by reducing unwarranted variation in over 30 surgical and medical specialties. Using data to support peer-to-peer conversations between clinicians, the programme is driving the dissemination of best practice.
So how can cheesecake help?
The Cheesecake Factory is a popular restaurant chain in the United States. Every year the chain serves millions of customers. Instead of using frozen ingredients shipped from distant factories, recipes are replicated at each location in-house using fresh ingredients. And according to Atul Gwande – a surgeon, researcher, and best-selling author – their food is consistently tasty. He convincingly uses the cheesecake example as an analogy for health service improvement in the New Yorker.
Determining what the best and most cost-effective clinical practice looks like and then disseminating it is made possible by the wealth of health data available to us. To effectively harness this data, we need specialists able to reconcile various data sources and producing user-friendly tools and visualisation. With support, these tools can in turn help empower clinical staff to lead health care service improvements.
If we invest now in making tools to disseminate best practices, along with other productivity-enhancing tools and technologies, we can help make re-investment in the NHS a piece of (cheese)cake.