Effective market shaping requires data, technology, and collaboration

With the Health and Care Bill 2022 passed into law, local authorities will soon be under the supervision and scrutiny of the Care Quality Commission, for their performance in activities including, but not limited to:

  • Ensuring good outcomes for people through effective leadership.
  • Managing their commissioning and contracting responsibilities.
  • Shaping the care market to meet people’s needs with diverse and quality provision, enabling choice and independence. *

*Source: Government’s – ‘People at the Heart of Care: adult social care reform white paper (2022)’

The requirement for local authorities to successfully monitor and shape care markets, i.e., market shaping, remains one of the most demanding and difficult. Areas currently inspected by the CQC, such as hospitals and adult social care providers, are seeing increasing demands from the regulator for improved data capture and ability to share performance data with them.

The need to improve market shaping, with more proactive measures and being able to detect emerging risks, requires better capture and use of data, which means having the right processes and technology in place.

As we all know, a key part of market shaping is the production of Market Position Statements (MPS) that care providers can access in order to make better decisions and contribute towards healthier, more effective care markets.

At Access we break down the areas that are factored into an MPS into 6 key components:

  • Population and prevalence
  • Quality and capacity
  • Quality assurance
  • Demand modelling
  • Spend and activity
  • Risk profiling


Data needs and burdens

Each component above requires a range of inputs. For example, for Population and prevalence, data may be included from the Office for National Statistics, prevalence rates (e.g. diabetes prevalence) in the local population and other demographic measures.

This data then needs to be pulled together and analysed, sometimes along with data from the other components, in order to produce genuinely useful outputs that provide care providers with rich information to influence the decisions they make.

Having outputs that are accurate means having data that is accurate and crucially, as up to date as possible. Using data that no longer reflects the true picture of the care market means you’re your department and providers using your MPS could be making decisions with faulty information.

This need for fairly hefty data processing and analysis reinforces the need to have the right technology in place. Alongside the technology, you need people with the right skills and knowledge to run, check and interpret the analysis. Of course, departments also need to understand their ethos and have a clear, shared understanding of what they are trying to achieve.

Having all these ingredients is necessary to shape markets effectively and be as responsive as possible to emerging changes and risks, but also to easily demonstrate your market shaping capabilities to external stakeholders, which of course now includes the Care Quality Commission.

However, its important that the technology is easy to use and takes on the burden of analysis, rather than creating new tasks for already stretched departments. It should be empowering rather than encumbering.

Data should be presented in an engaging way, visually as well as in tables, for internal and external stakeholders. The software should be able to create its own projections of demand, rather than placing that burden on departments, so that they can get on with addressing that demand.

Such technologies are already in use in local authorities across the UK. If local authorities utilise such systems they can effectively conduct market analysis, manage the market shaping process more efficiently and make MPSs and other relevant information easily accessible to providers.

Collaboration is key

Technology like this is not just delivering results within individual authorities. It is being used to share data between across regions, and run the analytical process collaboratively, to create a much more complete picture and avoid missing any factors or explanations that only become apparent once a wider, region-wide lens is applied.

For example, in the case of ADASS East (East of England), an example recently highlighted by government as best practice, ADASS East were able to use a complete software package to create a common regional approach that delivered efficiencies & consistency in care provider engagement.

Analyses can be made using care quality and financial data from 11 local authorities, 2,000 contracted providers and 20,000 service users, alongside automatically bringing in data from the CQC. This allows for comparison between ratings and LA findings, to ensure a comprehensive overview is given.

Streamlining and bringing data together gives an overall picture of market sustainability, which reduces risk within their care markets.  For example, spend data and volumes can highlight over reliance on one supplier which represents a risk, especially if the supplier works within a specialism which may be hard to replace in an emergency.

Guy Pettengell, Regional Strategic Procurement Manager, ADASS East Region, comments “There are many benefits to using the software, of course we are able to generate savings, but it is also ensuring a consistent approach to quality throughout the East of England’s 11 local authorities, saving us time and resources. We have regional standards, regional frameworks and a regional methodology which is needed for consistently assessing the quality of care. Prior to this, each local authority worked in isolation, and while they had an idea of care quality, there was no real context to justify that. This has changed as the software we use enables collaboration, so we can now benchmark and share intelligence far more easily.

Sharing spend and activity data also helps us to better understand our markets. We can spot trends and view how spend and activity has changed overtime. This helps us to focus our resources which is really important from a quality perspective, as it helps to maximise our stretched resources across the East of England.

This in turn improves quality and drives continuous improvement. The software we use has also created an environment for sharing best practise as you can talk to other local authorities and ask questions about shared challenges.

I’d absolutely recommend other local authorities  share data on a reciprocal agreement. It helps us to understand where we share provision, what our similarities and differences are, and much more. Many of our providers work across borders and having a consistent approach to quality assurance means we have a standardised methodology for comparing care quality. This allows us to compare data to spot trends and understand the way that the market is moving across a broader geographical area, as opposed to just across one local authority.”


 The Access Group are welcome partners of ADASS.