As part of my work with The GovLab, I am supporting the development of a research agenda and evaluation framework to inform NHS England’s Open Data strategy. As a first step in the process, we took a look at the objectives behind their open data initiatives. An excerpt from an early report I wrote detailing these objectives is below:
NHS England collects large quantities of data from health care providers. The NHS is now starting to release more data to health care professionals and the public to improve health outcomes, the patient experience, and efficiency in the health care system. Its goal is to promote a culture of transparency and participation that NHS believes will help achieve the following six objectives:
a. Theory: Opening comparative data on health outcomes will ensure that physicians and hospitals are held accountable for unwarranted variation (for example, in the use of certain medical procedures) shown in the data.
b. Example: An analysis of open data on the prescriptions written by every family doctor in England showed large variations in regional patterns for prescribing branded drugs vs. generic equivalents (35% of cholesterol-lowering drugs prescribed by doctors in Shropshire were branded vs. 8% in Hardwick). 
a. Theory: Open data on patient experience and health outcomes will allow patients to seek out the services that best meet their individual health care needs. Furthermore, increased access to health data will allow patients to choose between providers and treatments, both of which will drive patient satisfaction and quality improvements.
b. Example: Comparative data has enabled informed consumer choice in other sectors such as insurance and housing in the UK, and should also help empower consumers if made available in the health sector. Furthermore, research suggests that under certain circumstances patients prefer shared decision making approaches to care .
a. Theory: Connected information for integrated care as well as electronic records will accelerate data-sharing practices and reduce unnecessary duplications in care.
b. Example: Since implementing the VistA electronic medical records system in 1999, the United States Veterans Health Administration has increased in productivity by nearly 6 % per year. The system’s features include clinical decision support and data management features both supported by real-time data that flows across the enterprises.
a. Theory: Publishing “outcomes data” drives competition between health-care professionals, which can drive quality improvements and innovation. Opening health data to analysts and researchers improves both the quality and consistency of evaluation.
b. Example: Since NHS heart surgeons began publishing comparable data on clinical outcomes nine years ago, there have been 1,000 fewer deaths in heart surgery units each year. In 2010, following a change in policy that made hospitals financially responsible for certain readmissions that occurred within 30 days of discharge, the Nuffield Trust developed a successful algorithm for predicting people at risk of readmission. This type of predictive modeling can help hospitals target and support at-risk populations.
5. Customer Services
a. Theory: Improving patient access to data and providing convenient customer-oriented services such as online appointment booking and prescription refills will enable the NHS to achieve world class customer service and improve efficiency.
b. Example: With improved online tools, the number of adults banking online rose by 175% from 2001-2006 (for people over the age of 55 this number rose by 350%).
6. Economic Growth
a. Theory: Currently, some data can be difficult to request and expensive. If more data is collected and distributed, the UK will build on its standing as a center for research and innovation. Having all the data in one place will mean analyses can be done at the population level – making the UK an attractive place for health research as well as health innovation.
b. Example: On June 26, 2013, NHS England hosted a free event for health technology entrepreneurs to discuss funding sources as well as future events and networking opportunities. 
1.The Future is Open: Making NHS England the best customer service in the world. October 2012 http://www.bcs.org/upload/pdf/tkelsey-101012.pdf
2. Open data and health care, Beggar thy neighbor,” The Economist, December 8, 2012. http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21567980-how-scrutiny-freely-available-data-might-save-nhs-money-beggar-thy-neighbour
3.Frosch, Dominick L., and Robert M. Kaplan. “Shared decision making in clinical medicine: past research and future directions.” American journal of preventive medicine 17, no. 4 (1999): 285-294. The Power of Information: Putting us all in control of the health and care information we need.
4.The Power of Information: Putting us all in control of the health and care information we need. Department of Health, May 21, 2012. pg 18.
5. Evans, Dwight C., W. Paul Nichol, and Jonathan B. Perlin. “Effect of the implementation of an enterprise-wide Electronic Health Record on productivity in the Veterans Health Administration.” Health Economics, Policy and Law 1, no. 02 (2006): 163-169.
6. Putting Patients First.
7.Kelsey, Tim. “Transparency in the NHS not only saves lives – it is a fundamental human right,” The Gaurdian. March 12, 2012
8. Billings, John Blunt, Ian, Steventon, Adam. “Development of a predictive model to identify inpatients at risk of re-admission within 30 days of discharge (PARR-30),” Nuffield Trust. At: http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/2/4/e001667.full
9.“Online Banking Boom for Over 55s,” BBC News, August 24, 2007.
10. “The NHS is opening up to health technology entrepreneurs – find out how,” NHS England, June 26, 2013. http://www.england.nhs.uk/2013/06/26/tech-entre-event/