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an Economist Intelligence Unit business healthcare

The Information Standard



Department of Health



The Department of Health wanted to develop an Information Accreditation Scheme (the “Information Standard”) to deliver a nationally recognised way to reassure people that the health and social care information they access comes from a reliable source.


The problem

The scheme, when it was in development, required producers of health and social care information to supply information examples (sample documents) to be checked for clinical accuracy and safety. This check was to be done against twelve requirements of the Information Standard. The Department of Health asked Bazian to propose and execute a process for checking the evidence-base of information supplied by prospective health information providers seeking this “quality mark”.


Our solution

It was immediately apparent that a detailed analysis of the individual content of all published resources from all information producers would not be possible. Bazian proposed that sample documents should be assessed to ensure that the approved process has resulted in a product that offers reliable, balanced, up-to-date and evidence-based information. In addition, research conducted for the Department of Health showed that 41% of organizations surveyed said they would like support and advice in ensuring their products have a valid evidence base, suggesting that the scheme could also provide help for the information providers themselves.

Over the course of four months Bazian rapidly turned around evidence assessments of 68 sample documents provided by 34 producers of medical information, including charities such as Cancer Research UK, Epilepsy Action, the Royal National Institution for the Blind, Macmillan Cancer Support, NHS organisations such as Royal Marsden NHS Trust, Oxfordshire County Council's Social and Community Services, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and private organisations such as BUPA and Patient UK. In addition, a final report produced by Bazian outlined the strengths and weaknesses of the process and how it could be developed and improved. In the current system organisations have to show that their processes and systems produce information that is:

  • accurate
  • impartial
  • balanced
  • evidence-based
  • accessible
  • well-written.

Who could argue with that?


The outcome

The scheme was introduced on time and is gaining ground in being seen as a “must-have” kite-mark for providers of healthcare information in the UK. In addition to the 34 providers assessed in the pilot, the scheme has recently been expanded to include over another 100 providers of health care information, and is looking to add 200 providers by early 2011. The scheme is currently being administered by Capita, on behalf of the Department of Health.