Circle Insights

Ready, set, go! Making change happen in the NHS data ecosystem

Susan Brooks

Discover a proven and efficient approach to preparation and planning that paves the way to meaningful data transformation for NHS Trusts

It’s widely recognised in the NHS that harnessing data effectively holds the key to understanding and improving performance. When Trusts and ICS can gather and analyse a full and accurate range of patient and service data, they can better understand and anticipate patient needs and can shape service provision and manage capacity to enhance outcomes for patients.

The will is there to make this happen, amongst managers and clinicians. But the scale and complexity of NHS organisations and their data universe makes it difficult to make meaningful progress. Somehow, NHS leaders need to find a way to understand the dauntingly dense web of data, processes, requirements and systems in their Trust and form a workable plan of action that moves the entire organisation forward.

In your NHS organisation, some functions, datasets and systems may be highly evolved. You may regard them as an aspirational benchmark for the whole organisation. But in reality, rolling out this best practice consistently, within a fully connected data ecosystem, is daunting.

Working hands-on with NHS Trusts, the CACI Health Insights team has evolved an approach that empowers leaders to crystallise their current data reality and desired future state, so that pragmatic action planning is possible. We call this approach Ready, Set, Go. Structured preparation and discovery form a foundation for realistic planning and delivery of priority data effectiveness projects, ensuring synergy between projects and constant progression towards a single, system-wide goal.

The three stages of data transformation

1. Ready…

Readiness is the foundational phase of the approach. This means understanding and documenting current reality, then focusing on stakeholder engagement. Once stakeholders are on-side, you can work with them to define their requirements. Clearly setting out the planned benefits of change and (making sure that there are no unintended side-effects for other stakeholders) brings everyone to a clear vision of the desired future state. During the readiness phase, you’ll also establish standards and processes for quality assurance and governance.

2. Set…

Now that you understand the whole context and have determined the key projects to address, you can lay the foundations for data success by initiating transformation activities. It’s important to set timeframes and allocate resources across the entire transformation programme, so your delivery projects are realistically achievable in harmony rather than competing with each other. You may need to iterate the phasing so that the entire plan of discrete, connected projects is robust. Progressing at pace is key, so stakeholders can see and experience improvements at tangible milestones, but the schedule must be realistic, taking account of available internal and external staff with the right skills, and making sure that vital NHS activities are not hindered or disrupted.

3. Go…

As data transformation projects are completed, you move into a development phase. This means optimising data effectiveness by building the structures and outputs you need to extract ever-increasing benefit and insight for improved outcomes. Targeted learning and development sessions in all functions will enable data users to build their expertise in critical business practices. For ongoing management, you’ll need to use internal or external data experts in a cost-effective way, to maintain, optimise and continually enhance your data, so you can keep pace with new demands and opportunities to improve patient outcomes.

Stepping into the future of effective NHS data

The aspiration for every Trust is a single, complete data platform and analytics solution, providing accurate and consistently formatted data. Following the Ready, Set, Go approach, you can map a path towards seamless provision of historic, real-time and projected data. This will include strong and effective governance for sharing data securely, plus well controlled and monitored access to data for different users.

In the Readiness phase, mapping user requirements reveals the priorities with the greatest potential to transform efficiency and outcomes. In our experience, one of these is provision of self-service analytics and reporting tools that are both powerful and easy to use. By planning your data transformation project to deliver this, you can empower different people, teams and functions to create and tailor queries and reports, regularly and on demand. This cuts down reporting bottlenecks and reduces the pressure on under-resourced analyst teams.

When actionable reports can easily be tailored to the recipient and audience need and level of understanding, with meaningful visualisations and comparisons, you will be able to unlock the full, democratic power and impact of your data to inform strategic and clinical decision-making that improves your most vital NHS performance measures. Adopting the Ready, Set, Go approach can put this transformative outcome within your grasp.

Get the full picture with our Data Effectiveness white paper

For more context about the challenge of unlocking data effectiveness in NHS organisations, our white paper has further detail and examples of how our user-centred approach to defining data transformation priorities can work in practice. Download it free now.

If you’re ready to start a conversation about how our data effectiveness experience could help your organisation,  please get in touch with Susan Brooks in CACI’s NHS team.

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Susan Brooks