Mental and physical health go hand in hand
It has long been understood that mental and physical health go hand in hand, and that to treat one, you must fully understand the other. Thus, it stands to reason when looking from a population health perspective that understanding your population should address both physical and mental health.
However, there has been a constant complaint that the level of data available for mental health is poor. In our view, this is the wrong impression. The quality of data that is available in mental health has dramatically improved thanks to the introduction of cluster costing. When combined with data sets from the rest of the NHS, mental health data can provide rich insights which can be used to understand patient needs, organise care and inform payment.
In fact, the top thing to secure parity of impact (not just esteem) between mental health and physical health would be to make a robust analysis of mental health data routine, comparable to what is done with acute care.
At the core, this requires looking at the needs, activity and resource consumption of people with mental ill-health - as opposed to mental health services. This would ensure that people suffering mental ill health get the resources they need to support them from whatever services they get the from - whether it is mental health services, general acute, primary care, social care or community care.
The power of patient-level linked datasets
Over that past year, we have worked with one of the best-integrated data sets in the country: the Kent Integrated Dataset (KID). The KID is a patient-level linked dataset covering almost all the 1.8m people in Kent and Medway, combining data from primary care, secondary care, mental health and social care.
Each record is pseudonymised to ensure the data is unidentifiable. This data allows the understanding of a person’s mental and physical health conditions and their activity within the health and social care system and attributed costs. There is so much data, it is impossible to understand it without advanced analysis.