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Commissioners have identified best practice and innovation as essential aspects of their information needs. Commissioners need to be kept up to date with best practice and innovation not just in the UK but worldwide. This will enable them to benchmark existing services and influence service redesign.

However, searching for best practice and innovation is not always simple as it relies on health services sharing their experiences; and when they do publish they are often not robust evidence based accounts, but a commentary.

This section will include useful resources for benchmarking, as well as search terms. Information on best practice and innovation can be found in best practice and innovation.

Tips on searching the web:

When searching the internet, suggested terms include…

  • Useful search terms: best practice, programme evaluation, product evaluation, case stud*, innovat*, pathway*, protocol*, benchmark*,clinical effective*, clinical governance, cost effective*, indicator*, outcome*, patient safety, quality improvement, quality of patient care, quality assurance, collaborat*
  • COMBINE WITH keywords reflecting the topic area you are focusing upon.
  • To limit to NHS papers, try combining your results with: (ccg OR nhs). To look for CCG publications add the following to your google search:  site: (note the space before the CCG.)
  • You can search for terms such as “board paper” / “strategy” to help to locate Trust papers

Also have a look at our summary of tips on searching the web.

Benchmarking Tools

Note – a number of these services are no longer available or out of date and have been moved to the foot of the page.

Commissioning for Value – a range of comprehensive data packs and online tools to help CCGs to use existing data about Programme Budget spend, Health Outcomes and healthcare variation to identify the best “value opportunities” to prioritise in their strategic commissioning planning.

CCG programme budgeting benchmarking tool
The programme budgeting collection provides a framework for estimating NHS expenditure across across disease areas, also known as “programme categories” covering the whole care pathway.The main purpose of the data is to provide benchmarking information enabling NHS organisations to make evidence based investment and prioritisation decisions. The Programme Budget Framework was the basis for Commissioning for Value toolkits (above)

NHS Benchmarking Network
“Our vision is to be the definitive reference point for benchmarking publicly funded Health and Social Care services.” The Network is in-house benchmarking service of the NHS and is the world’s largest healthcare benchmarking service. The work supports commissioners to achieve the best balance from available commissioning resources and providers in delivering optimal services within resource constraints. (Contact Lindsey Ashley for information.)

Programme Budgeting Benchmarking Tool
Published annually to enable commissioners to identify how they spend their allocation over 23 disease categories, how their disease category level expenditure is split across 12 care settings and how their expenditure distribution pattern compares with other commissioners nationally, locally or with similar characteristics.

Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) – 2013-14 – QOF data for 2013-14, in particular prevalence of key conditions. Data at Area team, CCG and GP practice level. Use the QOF search engine to find data for particular GP practices.

Stethoscope (Methods Analytics)
Originally developed as the Acute Trust Quality Dashboard for the NHS East Midlands Quality Observatory, Stethoscope is an online tool that brings together indicators based on the NHS Outcomes Framework focusing on an acute provider from a variety of sources.  The CCG view was launched in November 2013. High level Stethoscope content is free to the public, more granular information is subscription based.

Outcomes benchmarking support packs: CCG and LA level an information pack for each CCG and Local Authority across England compiled for the NHS Commissioning Board (January 2013). The CCG level packs provide a detailed analysis of NHS outcomes and other relevant indicators. The Local Authority level packs present high level comparative information on the NHS, the Adult Social Care and the Public Health Frameworks.
An interactive version of the CCG packs is also available .

HSCIC Indicator Portal 
A range of health indicators in one place including CCG Outcomes Indicator Set, Compendium of Population Health Indicators, Local Basket of Inequalities Indicators (LBOI), GP Practice data, Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework (ASCOF), Quality Accounts, NHS Outcomes Framework, Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator (SHMI). These indicators are used as the basis of many performance and benchmarking resources.

QualityWatch: from Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation
“Independent scrutiny into how the quality of health and social care is changing over time.” using 270 indicators by sector (eg Population & Commissioning) and domain, ‘Focus on’ reports (in-depth analysis of a number of key topics eg A&E attendances). Hard to explain this site – go and have a look. Search for an indicatorsand filter by domain.

Best Value Groups & Benchmarking Clubs (National Performance Advisory  Group)
Mainly topics of interest to those in large NHS Trusts, eg estates, car parking, wast management.

Patient Safety Incident Reports
Two page summary documents for each NHS organisation can be generated using a Patient Safety Data Comparison Tool. Spreadsheet includes denominator information eg number of admissions, number of bed days for different organisations.

Health Areas Area Classification (towns) and Corresponding health areas (PCTs)
ONS calculations which calculate the statistical similarity between health areas. Resulting groupings of health areas can be used to benchmark geographically distant health areas.

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Resources no longer updated:

PCT Health Investment Packs
Developed through the QIPP Right Care workstream (, now available through the health &Social Care Information Centre, HIPs use the outputs from analysis tools already available to PCTs to analyse variation in spend, outcomes and activity growth by programme budget category. At July 2015 the most recent available is 2010.
The analysis tools include: PCT Spend and Outcome Factsheets and Tool (SPOT); Programme Budgeting Atlas; NHS Comparators; Inpatient Variation Expenditure Tool (IVET). For more information about the individual tools see the Health Investment Network Key Tools.

NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, Modelling & Simulation – Benchmarking Tools
You can use benchmarking software tools to compare the current performance of a health system with similar health systems. If you combine this tool with simulation, you can also use it to test the impact of change in comparison with another health system or group of systems. This is particularly helpful for matching your performance to similar organisations

Quality and Productivity Calculator  Latest data  2009/10.
Developed and supported by NHS Primary Care Commissoners (PCC, the Quality and Productivity Calculator tool benchmarks spend and activity in primary care, acute and community services across all PCT areas in England.

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