Stories

Putting analytics at the heart of healthcare

Last month I was delighted to be part of a four-person panel discussion webinar with the Health Service Journal (HSJ). It was a great experience, and, once I got used to the fact there were several cameras pointed at me (the webinar was streamed live over the internet), I enjoyed it!

Last month I was delighted to be part of a four-person panel discussion webinar with the Health Service Journal (HSJ). It was a great experience, and, once I got used to the fact there were several cameras pointed at me (the webinar was streamed live over the internet), I enjoyed it!

It was a privilege to be joined by two of our customers: Lesley Neary, head of planning and performance, Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust (LCH), and Margot Russell, deputy director of NVAHP practice, development care, NHS Lanarkshire. We were also delighted to be joined by Emma Maier, deputy editor of HSJ.

NHS organisations are under huge pressure to reduce costs and improve performance through better use of information and technology. This is highlighted by UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s view that the NHS should be paperless by 2018 in order to help save billions of pounds.  PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) further supported this notion by suggesting £4.4 billion could be put back into the NHS with better use of information and technology*.

However, ‘information’ and ‘technology’ are broad terms, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly what exactly makes a real difference. In my experience working with NHS organisations, improvement of data management and analytics delivers significant benefits. Through better use of analytics NHS organisations can transform existing processes and procedures to improve overall performance and patient care.

Emma Maier, opened the debate by stating that “the challenge is obtaining the right data, bringing together the data, and being able to make sense of all that information.” I certainly agree with this. This has been a challenge for all organisations across all sectors, but unfortunately not the only challenge. When working with NHS organisations such as LCH and NHS Lanarkshire, we have found that better accessibility, availability, and consistency of data are the first steps that the NHS has to take on the journey to improving performance.

Lesley Neary pointed out that staff members in her organisation were seeing patients in a variety of settings, so they needed accurate information on-the-move.  Mobile devices connected to patient information systems can meet this need by ensuring records are kept up-to-date at all times, no matter where people are. More importantly, this capability allows staff to remain at patients’ bedsides instead of heading to the nursing station each time they need to update information, increasing the amount of patient interaction which improves patient care. Lesley Neary pointed out staff in her trusts were seeing patients in a variety of settings so needed information available wherever they were.

Introducing new analytical platforms and tools is not easy but we have found that many of the current offerings are simply not meeting requirements.  In a healthcare environment, the need for accurate, real-time data is vital because it can literally save lives. Many analytic solutions are not delivering consistent information across teams, leading to confusion and discrepancies that are often difficult to explain and take time to resolve. Margot Russell explained that they use a dashboard where information is near real-time in order to manage patient flow across their organisation and identify when there are any blockages. It allows them to quickly identify who has been waiting for treatment longest, when and where bed requests are made, and who is making the request.

Furthermore, analytics has the potential to not only improve reporting on past events but also to predict future outcomes that will enable NHS organisations to plan ahead more effectively, improve utilisation of resources, cut costs, and improve patient experience. Time is always limited, so being trapped in a cycle of reporting on past events without truly analysing the meaning is costly and inefficient. Lesley Neary explained that their new dashboard enables data analysts to be more productive because they now spend more time analysing data rather than just managing it, delivering more actionable insights and greater value to the organisation. In addition, having a shared set of uniform data also allows informed decisions to be made much faster.

I personally enjoy working with the NHS as I genuinely believe that better analysis complex data has the potential to improve patient care.  I am confident that, with the right tools, the NHS can meet the strict objectives set out by the UK government and work towards better health for all of us.

View the Health Service Journal webinar here.

See how we work with NHS Lanarkshire here.

See how we work with Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust here.

*source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21033984

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