We recently launched the Improvement Radar, a new tool on OpenPrescribing. This tool makes it easy to identify organisations which have shown substantial improvement, across a wide range of our existing OpenPrescribing measures.

To use the tool, simply click on the new “See which Sub-ICB locations have most improved on this measure” link when viewing measures on our website.


You can also find the Improvement Radar under the “Trends” section on the OpenPrescribing homepage. You can then use the table of contents to click on the measure you are interested in viewing.


How does it work?

The tool analyses OpenPrescribing measure data for each Sub-ICB location (SICBL) over a 5 year period. We currently use these criteria to identify improvement:

  • SICBLs needed to be, on average, in the highest 20% during the first 6 months of the time period shown.
  • SICBLs needed to improve to be, on average, in the lowest 50% of SICBLs during the last 6 months of the period shown.
  • The rate of the measure has to decrease by at least 5% across the time period shown (calculated as the difference between the average rate for the first 6 months and the last 6 months).
  • There needed to be, on average, at least 50 prescription items written.

What does it show?

The tool shows graphs of the five Sub-ICB locations (SICBLs) with the largest improvement in the selected measure. If no SICBLs were identified that met our criteria for detecting substantial change, then no graphs will be displayed.


The change (shown by the red line) may be a sudden steep drop in the measure, or a more gradual drop over several months. Both types of change can be interesting, with the former more likely to indicate a targeted intervention, and the latter a more steady effect from policy adjustments and associated behavioural changes.

Using the findings

It’s important to note that the tool can’t tell us what the reasons are behind the improvement seen, but we expect that with some simple investigation any key interventions that underpin the improvement could be revealed. We hope this will stimulate discussion with areas that have made effective changes so that successful strategies can be shared. A typical use case might look something like this:

  • Organisation A wants to undertake or promote a new piece of work.
  • Using the Improvement Radar they quickly identify that organisation B has made substantial improvements in their prescribing area of interest.
  • Organisation A contacts organisation B to learn whether they did something specific to achieve the improvement.
  • Organisation B reveals key strategies they used to achieve the improvement.
  • Organisation A can then:
    • Integrate those strategies into their own work plans or policy, with the aim of reproducing the success.
    • Showcase those strategies as examples of best practice by presenting them to broader audiences.

What’s next?

At OpenPrescribing we work in an agile and iterative way so that we can rapidly share innovative new tools. Driven by our extensive user testing, our list of future enhancements includes:

  • Adding improved navigation features, to help users find what they’re interested in more quickly.
  • Using the Improvement Radar in research to further validate its usefulness in facilitating reproducible improvements.
  • Exploring if we can further optimise our change detection criteria to find even more interesting changes. For example, we may be able to introduce elements of a ‘trend indicator saturation’ methodology (we have used this in previous research), you can find more information on this here, including a podcast on our work with Professor Ben Goldacre.
  • Exploring if we can help organisations get in touch with each other, e.g. by including contact details (where volunteered by an organisation) if a particular piece of work is known to be linked with an improvement shown.
  • Exploring if we can increase awareness of key findings from the Improvement Radar, e.g. including in email updates.

We are keen to hear feedback on this tool and how you use it. You can do this either by email or tagging us on X (formerly Twitter). Please do not include patient identifiable information in your feedback.

Citing our work

In the spirit of collaboration, we encourage users to appropriately cite and give credit when sharing findings from the Improvement Radar tool. Citing our work not only acknowledges our efforts in developing the tool but also contributes to the visibility and impact of the insights it provides.

For Policymakers: Include the tool’s name (“OpenPrescribing Improvement Radar”), and provide a link to the OpenPrescribing website (https://openprescribing.net) for interested readers to explore further.

For Academic manuscripts: Include the tool’s name (“OpenPrescribing Improvement Radar”) with a link to the OpenPrescribing website (https://openprescribing.net) in your references. Where applicable, consider citing Hopcroft et al. (2023) for early background context on change detection work which inspired development of the Improvement Radar.