“Aiming for a shared understanding of words and numbers in health and healthcare”.
Information Standards Assurance contributes to the overall aim of data being captured, shared, stored, used and analysed consistently and coherently, throughout the NHS in Wales and in its relationships with its partner organisations. It is relevant to data used in all aspects of NHS business. It contributes to the improvement of information quality whilst working to minimise any unjustifiable burden of data collection.
Everyone, every day, working in the NHS is involved with data and information. This includes front-line clinicians, ward clerks, organisational managers, performance managers, statisticians and policy-makers.
Whether their role is to collect it, process it, analyse it or to improve patient care by applying it, they can only do this safely and responsibly if they all understand what it means, and share a commitment to improving its consistency.
Missing or misinterpreted data can result in simple inefficiency – time and effort is wasted on trying to improve data quality because the criteria had not been properly defined in the first place - or in actual harm - the wrong clinical details in the care record.
Artificial boundaries within the service can be created by different data/information definitions and standards for care delivery in primary, secondary and community settings. This may work against efforts to create seamless patient care.
Similar boundaries exist where the languages of clinical care and administration contradict each other, or fail to describe the same patient events. This often hampers efforts to develop and implement outcome and other quality improvement initiatives.
Information Standards Assurance exists to help all those aiming to drive forward improvements in any aspect of healthcare information and IT by identifying:
what relevant data and information standards already exist
how inappropriate or duplicate data collection burden might be reduced and data quality improved - thereby enabling valuable resource to re-focus on service improvement.
how all steps in the collection, communication, storage and analysis of data can each impact on information quality and therefore its consistent interpretation, and
how selecting the right data and information standards will improve the project outcome resulting in enhanced benefits.
The body established to oversee the Information Standards Assurance process (then called the Information Governance Process) was the Welsh Information Governance & Standards Board (WIGSB). This was established under WHC (2006) 83 in May 2006.
With the creation of Digital Health and Care Wales (DHCW) and changes to the assurance of confidentiality and consent matters, an opportunity has been provided to rationalise pre-existing information and IT assurance responsibilities. This has enabled a review of WIGSB's role and Terms of Reference. Changes to both are reflected in its new name, the Welsh Information Standards Board (WISB).