Updated: Oct 31
As always, we write our blog for Primary Care Network leaders, and this blog is specifically for those of you who have;
1️⃣ Wondered if purchasing Ardens Manager is worth it.
2️⃣ Ardens Manager but do not utilise it.
3️⃣ Just found out you need to catch up to achieving a large chunk of the money available via the Investment and Impact Fund (IIF).
In this blog, we will cover:
1. What is Ardens Manager, and what does it do?
2. The cons of using Ardens Manager
3. The benefits of using Ardens Manager
At the time of writing, 3 PCNs we provide interim management to use Ardens Manager. We have also used this tool in many other networks we have managed.
Whilst many practices will use Ardens on an individual level and love it, many networks are sceptical about using PCN funds to secure Ardens Manager now the IIF has significantly reduced, and are rightly so, asking if the tool is worth it when they already have someone to run the searches or collect the achievement data and enter it into their own tailor-made spreadsheets and dashboards.
Here are our thoughts ⬇️
What is Ardens Manager?
Ardens Manager tracks, benchmarks & aggregates Primary Care data in one place on a smart and easy-to-use online dashboard using the data from your clinical system.
In simpler terms, the platform can help you to understand better how your network is performing.
What does the tool do?
Ardens Manager enables you to easily monitor aspects of the Network Contract DES, the Investment and Impact Fund and your QOF income.
At a Primary Care Network level, Ardens Manager can help you monitor and manage your performance in the following areas:
➡️ Enhanced Access
➡️ Social Prescribing
➡️ Enhanced Care in Care Homes
➡️ Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
➡️ Medication reviews and medicines optimisation
➡️ Early Cancer Diagnosis (ECD)
➡️ Tackling Neighbourhood Health Inequalities
➡️ The Investment and Impact Fund
➡️ Seasonal Influenza
You can see the clinical activity, percentage achieved, number of patients seen and number of patients remaining, and set targets for completion through the year to prevent the last-minute rush.
If the data seems off, this provides a great opportunity to discuss workload planning and ensure the correct codes are being used.
Without this tool, you can either run the searches yourself or ask your clinical lead how things are progressing. However, depending on how hands-on your clinical leads are, they are unlikely to have the data that Ardens Manager has.
You can also use the tool to manage your local access and capacity projects, local enhanced access contracts, the spending against the national PCN funding streams and monitor your current workforce.
Ease of use
The platform is also easy to use, and Ardens Manager provides many free training videos and webinars to help you get the most from the platform.
Within THC Primary Care, Leah is our Ardens Manager wiz and, in no time at all, became proficient at using the tool by naturally following the steps, participating in their webinars, and is now completing training using Ardens Academy.
Ardens Academy is their free online learning platform designed to help you improve your knowledge of Ardens and use their resources more effectively. You can also receive certificates for completing the training.
The learning through Ardens Academy doesn’t just support you on how to use Ardens; there is also an introduction to the PCN DES, the principles of QOF, and how to support your practice with the upcoming seasonal influenza vaccination, thus providing an additional benefit of supporting new network staff with their induction to the network if they are brand new to general practice and PCNs.
Along with their Training Academy, the Ardens Team has three national Facebook groups and a bulletin where you can receive the latest on new features and post questions if you need help.
The Facebook groups can be found below.
What funding pot can you fund Ardens from?
At the time of publishing this blog, PCNs could use the following income streams to fund Ardens:
➡️ Core PCN Funding
➡️ Leadership and Management funding
➡️ Impact and Investment funding
➡️ The PCN Capacity and Access funding
In some areas, the ICB’s fund Ardens Manager.
At the time of publishing this blog, the Ardens Manager National Contracts package costs 11p / patient + VAT, which includes access to dashboards on QOF, Network Contract DES (including IIF and Capacity and Access), SMI Health Check and NHS Health Checks. Ardens Manager also supports Locally Commissioned Services with a Local Contracts package.
Can you try it before you buy it?
At the time of writing this blog, networks can receive a 1-month free trial. However, to make the most of this trial, all practices must grant access quickly; otherwise, you won't receive the full benefits.
They have introduced automatic uploads, which capture each practice's performance and amalgamate the network's overall performance in one place. So, no more running searches within each practice's clinical system and uploading this data to the Ardens platform. This is all done for you.
What are the cons of using Ardens Manager?
It wouldn’t be an honest review of the tool if we didn’t share any cons.
For us, some parts of Ardens Manager rely on you inputting the data manually.
For example, Ardens Manager can track your spending against the core funding. However, most PCNs will have a robust financial management system, so entering this here could be seen as an unnecessary duplication.
Do any of you use this feature? If yes, please let us know in the comments.
The same applies to the workforce data; there is repetition here and some discrepancies, however, as with most of the data found in Ardens, this is either pulled from national data sets or data from your clinical system.
We do not personally use Ardens to monitor our workforce data (i.e. the number of fte per role) as this is attached to the network's finances.
When it comes to access and capacity, we do not use Ardens Manager to store the narrative of these workstreams either, but on reflection, we will look to change this moving forward.
So, is it worth having Ardens Manager?
100% yes if you want to be able to monitor your network performance efficiently with the ability to access this data at any time.
You can save time and say goodbye to spreadsheets or simply not knowing.
The tool will:
1️⃣ Save you time, as the data is now amalgamated automatically. It’s easy to use and easier to analyse and scrutinise the data.
2️⃣ Ensure the data remains centralised and not just in the hands of a few to ensure transparency.
3️⃣ Provide you with greater clarity on how your network is performing.
Ardens Manager can also easily calculate how much money the network is set to achieve against the Investment and Impact Fund. In 22/23, it was all about the IIF, but the tool does so much more than this.
The tool can provide your network with data to help you with workforce planning, service management, training, and financial management if you want to make full use of this.
Ardens Manager can also monitor QOF performance and payment data at GP Practice and PCN level.
In our blog titled, What to Focus in on Q3, when it comes to sharing the performance of the DES and IIF, we pull this data from Ardens Manager, but as I write this blog, I am spotting lots of areas for improvement in how we use the tool. In our next face-to-face team meeting, a section of this meeting will be dedicated to ensuring everyone is fully up to date on what the tool can do.
There are, of course, other providers that offer something similar, so do your research.
We hope this helps.
Interested and want to learn more?
Listen to our podcast featuring Laura Wickham, who is the Director of Ardens Manager.
Laura returns with some exciting updates about the latest Ardens Manager features, which are currently in development - and shares her insights and thoughts as a tech leader, covering:
Consistent and regular review of the utilisation of products and services
The Ardens Manager approach to queue management
Dealing with technical debt in the business
Restructure and reconfiguration of people and processes
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Find out more about THC Primary Care at: https://www.thcprimarycare.co.uk
About the Author
Tara and Team THC provide project and network management and training to Primary Care Networks. Between our training programmes, facilitation and interim network programmes, we have now supported over 120 PCNs! Tara has an MBA in Healthcare Leadership and Management, is published in the London Journal of Primary Care, is the author of over 200 blogs and also hosts The Business of Healthcare Podcast.