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Data that drives change

Dr John Havard explains how his consortium is presenting data to grab GPs’ attention.

One of the difficulties of tackling variation between practices is reaching and engaging every GP. In my consortium, one member from each practice attends commissioning meetings, but many people who are actually spending the money aren’t there. I can reach every practice, but not every partner.

GPs already interested will analyse any data sheets they are sent, but there is a small minority who are not engaged and don’t want to plough through spreadsheets.

A few months ago I looked for a way of grabbing their attention and came up with the idea of using the attractive and eye-catching dashboard of a 1920s Bentley to simply illustrate each practice’s position compared with the rest of the county.

The results are shown on the dials, and once GPs start wondering why the main dial is in the red, they are led to more detailed data analysis on the next page. The dashboard also adds a playful competitive element, covering the county’s 68 practices.

We have a 12-lap race and each month the practices can see how they are progressing compared with others in the commissioning group as well as across the whole of Suffolk.

Set-up costs for any commissioning group wanting to copy this would be around £90 per practice. Every month there is a cost of £15 per practice to update the dashboard. My PCT is happy to provide the data in the format I need.


The response from GPs has been positive. It’s helping us get a stronger grip on prescribing and has sharpened up thinking about alternatives to unscheduled admissions. It’s too early to give figures yet, but I sense it is engaging GPs at the coalface.

The competitive element really helps reduce variation; at each consortium meeting we compare the dashboards for each practice, which gets people talking about how they achieved their position.

Dr John Havard is a GP in Saxmundham, Suffolk, and chair of the Commissioning Ideals Alliance in Suffolk

The dashboard design draws GPs in, by being both visually intriguing and informative The dashboard design draws GPs in, by being both visually intriguing and informative