NHS Business Services Authority Gains Better Insight into Data, Identifies circa GBP100 Million (US$156 Million) in Potential Savings in Just Three Months
By Charlie Berger, Advanced Analytics-Oracle on Oct 12, 2015
Customer: NHS Business Services Authority
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Industry: Public Sector
Annual Revenue: $100 to $500 Million
The NHS Business Services
Authority (NHSBSA) is a special health authority and an arm’s length body of
the Department of Health for England. It provides a range of critical central
services to NHS organizations, contractors, patients, and the public. Services
include managing the NHS Pension schemes in England and Wales, managing
payments to primary care dental and pharmacy contractors, and administering the
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
The NHS budget for 2015/16 is approximately GBP116 billion (US$179 billion) and the total funds administered by the NHSBSA (including those for the NHS Pension schemes) amount to circa GBP32 billion (US$48 billion). The Department of Health asked the NHSBSA to take a proactive role to identify opportunities to reduce costs and eliminate waste. One way to do this was to find better ways to use the vast volumes of data already collected and held within the organization to help reduce fraud and error throughout the health service.
The NHSBSA needed a new, centralized solution that would enable it to gain better value from its data which is spread across a disparate set of IT systems, data, storage, and analytical capabilities. To achieve this, it chose an end-to-end Oracle solution including Oracle Advanced Analytics, Oracle Exadata Database Machine, Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine, Oracle Endeca Information Discovery, and Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition.
With this Oracle solution, the NHSBSA established its Data Analytics Learning Laboratory (DALL), investing in both technology and expertise to create insight from its data. Within the first three months of operation, the organization identified circa GBP100 million (US$156 million) in potential savings.
Uncovering Savings in Dentistry
A word from NHS Business Services Authority
- “Oracle Advanced Analytics’ data mining capabilities and Oracle Exalytics’ performance really impressed us. The overall solution is very fast, and our investment very quickly provided value. We can now do so much more with our data, resulting in significant savings for the NHS as a whole.” – Nina Monckton, Head of Information Services, NHS Business Services Authority
The NHSBSA used analytics to
identify significant savings within NHS dental services and find instances of
activities which do not demonstrate good value for money.
“With Oracle Advanced Analytics, it is much easier to detect anomalies in behaviors. We used anomaly detection to discover where there might be evidence of inappropriate behavior in dentists’ claims, enabling NHS commissioners to follow up and challenge their activities,” explained Nina Monckton, head of information services, NHSBSA.
Preventing Fraud for European Health Insurance Card
The EHIC is available to all
European citizens covered by a statutory social security scheme and entitles
them to free healthcare while visiting other European countries.
During analysis of EHIC data, the NHSBSA discovered commercial addresses being used fraudulently to apply for EHIC cards and uncovered the use of invalid NHS and National Insurance numbers to apply for a card.
“We used Oracle Exalytics and Oracle Business Intelligence for the EHIC application to improve the front-end validation process, prevent fraud, and blacklist addresses showing suspicious activities,” Monckton said.
Analyzing Billions of Records in Minutes
The NHSBSA receives data
relating to more than one billion prescription items dispensed in primary care
settings each year. Previously, the NHSBSA did not have the computing power to
analyze this data at transaction level.
The NHSBSA can now analyze billions of records at one time, and by analyzing much larger sets of patient data, the NHSBSA can provide insight that is helping to improve standards of care throughout the health service.
“Previously, our information analysts did not have the ability to directly query data as it was mainly held in live operational systems. Now that we are able to transfer data to our Exadata environment, we have dramatically improved our ability to deliver value from our data,” Monckton said.
Analyzing Unstructured Text to Measure Satisfaction
Improving Data Matching To Save Millions of Dollars
In England, some people are entitled to free medical prescriptions or dental treatment from the NHS. The NHSBSA works with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to establish that those patients declaring that they are exempt from a charge for dental treatment and/or medical prescriptions are claiming correctly. Using Oracle Exalytics to compare datasets, the NHSBSA reduced the rate of non-matching records for dentistry from 15% to just 5%.
The Role of Data Governance
Data is now moving to the
heart of all NHSBSA programs. As a result of the organization’s new analytics
capability, teams have a better understanding of what they can do with the data
and are more careful about what data they collect.
“We now know that if we collect the right data at the start of a program, we can measure what is working down the line. We are starting to change the culture of the organization around our data governance. There has been a massive shift. Data is now central to all our new programs, and data governance is at the heart of everything we do,” Monckton said.
Using the Data Analytics Learning Laboratory to Achieve Strategic Goals
The NHSBSA’s data analytics
investment is helping the organization to achieve its 5 year strategic goals,
which include helping to save GBP1 billion (US$1.56 billion) for NHS patients,
reducing unit costs by 50%, improving service and delivering great results for
customers, and deriving insight from data to drive change.
“With our newly established Data Lab in place, we can add even more value to the NHS. I cannot begin to describe how significant that has been. This project is really helping us to achieve our strategic goals. In addition, we are working in a different way now and it has even helped with how people interact and function in the workplace.
“We’ve had a very positive response, and our chief executive is extremely impressed with our achievements and the results we have shown so far. As a result, management is recommending that our suppliers and partners come to see what we are doing to learn from our experiences,” Monckton said.
Over the next six months, the DALL team has a large number of analytics projects in the pipeline and is looking to help other areas of the business to better leverage their data. The organization will focus on how it can use Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition with business users. In addition, the NHSBSA is investigating how it might share data and its analytical ability with other government organizations to drive further value from its investment.
- Use new insight gathered from data to help identify cost savings and meet NHSBSA strategic goals
- Identify and prevent healthcare fraud and benefit eligibility errors to save costs
- Leverage existing data to transform business and productivity
Oracle Product and Services
- Oracle Advanced Analytics
- Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine
- Oracle Endeca Information Discovery
- Oracle Exadata Database Machine
- Oracle Business Intelligence Suite, Enterprise Edition
- Identified up to GBP100 million (US$156 million) that could potentially be saved across the NHS through benefit fraud and error reduction, by deploying new analytics infrastructure
- Identified and implemented changes to prevent fraudulent European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) applications
- Used data matching to identify savings that can be made through the recovery of money from patients claiming exemption from charges for dental treatment or prescriptions when not eligible to do so
- Used anomaly detection to uncover fraudulent activity where some dentists split a single course of treatment into multiple parts and presented claims for multiple treatments
- Analyzed unstructured text to measure employee satisfaction in more detail and found a direct link between those who felt less engaged at work and those more likely to take time off sick
- Analyzed billions of records at one time to measure longer-term patient journeys and to analyze drug prescribing patterns to improve patient care
- Established a new Data Analytics Learning Laboratory (DALL) that uses data and analytics to drive action and significant savings for the NHS
- Implemented Oracle Advanced Analytics, Oracle Exadata Database Machine, Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine, Oracle Endeca Information Discovery, and Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition to deliver fast analysis and data mining for NHS and wider government departments
“We chose Oracle because the
solution could cope with very large data volumes running into billions of rows
and could scale as volumes increase. In addition, the Oracle solution required
no IT team support to run the queries, which enables our team of data analysts
to be self-sufficient. Oracle Exalytics’ in-memory capability gave us the speed
we required, and Oracle’s engineered systems accelerated deployment and reduced
“Working with Oracle has been a very positive experience. The team has been incredibly responsive and provided a number of experts to help us get up and running as quickly as possible. With one vendor providing the whole solution, it’s very easy for us. If we need help, we know where to go,” Monckton said.
Oracle ran a proof of concept
(POC) to show the speed and capability of the proposed end-to-end solution. The
POC used publically available data sets for NHS prescription data. It covered
50 million prescribed items, 300 million records, and six months of data. The
team concentrated on finding anomalies in the data and carrying out further
analysis to understand them before presenting the findings in a clear and
Following the POC, Oracle worked with NHSBSA and its data center partner, Capita, to complete the implementation. During implementation, Oracle provided the NHSBSA with access to a virtual environment. This enabled the team to get some experience with the tools before completing the implementation. As such, NHSBSA was familiar and confident with using the new analytics tools from day one, saving considerable time and gaining immediate value.
NHSBSA identified which data it should use for analysis and transferred it across to its Oracle Exadata environment. To date it has transferred more than 15 billion rows of data into Oracle Exadata. The prescription services database with 14 billion rows of data is the largest exported data source using 400 gigabytes. The export took 10 hours to complete with Oracle as the source database.
Advice from NHSBSA
- Have a clear plan for the first six months before you begin your implementation
- Ensure you have buy-in from key stakeholders
- Choose easy areas to start with, so you can demonstrate positive results quickly and prove the value of the solution to others
- Build knowledge within your team through training and Oracle events; this helps staff to think differently about the possibilities of using data
- Get help from the experts: talk to your existing suppliers, go to analytics events, and talk to other organizations who have implemented analytics
- It’s never too early to think about data governance and data quality: recruit a data standards manager to create data governance policies and identify data leads around the business