Circle Insights

NHS data effectiveness planning in the real world

Susan Brooks

Let’s talk about what really happens when an NHS Trust initiates a data transformation project, including key factors that determine success

How can NHS Trusts and ICS access the much-discussed potential of their data within the real-world environment of a complex, large-scale, over-stretched, pressurised, life-saving organisation?

Enthusiasm about the power of data is widespread and many leaders and managers have glimpsed a vision of how their organisation and function could transform its planning and service delivery with leading-edge insight. They know the possibility is real, because in their Trust, there are certain highly evolved functions, datasets and systems that form an aspirational benchmark. But in reality, rolling out this best practice consistently, to create an ultimately system-wide transformation, is daunting.

We don’t have easy answers or a silver bullet approach. Every NHS organisation is sophisticated and complicated – optimising data effectiveness demands rigorous focus and a commitment of resources. But we do have best practice examples of successful readiness projects we’ve worked on with NHS Trusts, helping them take the most efficient and cost-effective route to data transformation.

We reached a point where we knew we had to make changes in our technology for future scaling. We had to look not only at the commercials with our existing technology, but at our all-encompassing technology. (NHS Trust Informatics Leader)

One NHS Trust recently asked CACI to help them develop a comprehensive readiness package for a major data migration. The Trust’s situation was typical, with constantly evolving technology and a wide range of users with different levels of capability and understanding. There were acknowledged weaknesses in understanding fast-changing tools and technologies – the Informatics team had identified the value of engaging a trusted partner to help bridge any knowledge gaps.

Adopting a user-centred approach was key. The Informatics lead was determined to do the right thing for the organisation and knew the value of a focused piece of user engagement that would allow everyone to be heard and have confidence that their concerns were understood and included in the output.

Trust and openness are key to an effective readiness project. Whether you conduct it internally or using an expert third party partner, it’s important that everyone feels comfortable discussing how existing products and services are working in practice. External specialists can bring objectivity to the process, defusing possible defensiveness or concerns about confidentiality by using and explaining a transparent and proven methodology designed to achieve the end goal of better data insight for everyone.

It’s one thing to catalogue data queries and requirements as users express them, but to deliver an effective new solution, Trusts must understand the underlying rationale and how data is supporting critical processes and decisions. Our experts were able to explore and question effectively, so different users’ experiences were fully understood in an organisational context.

A third party like CACI has unique capability to discern what the underlying requirements might be for a successful transition and elevation in technology. Our relationship feels grounded in practicality and addressing real problems. (NHS Trust Informatics Leader)

For this project, CACI’s Healthcare Insight consultants first analysed the Trust’s existing reporting outputs and infrastructure, to gain a comprehensive view of its architecture. They engaged with internal and external data analytics stakeholders to understand their needs and preferences and to assess the board’s strategic data and reporting priorities.

The output was a detailed report of all quantitative and qualitative findings. From this, the Trust gained new understanding of their existing functions and capabilities and the changes required to succeed in the future.

The next step was to align with the Trust’s data strategy and produce a blueprint for the future, outlining new data architecture, data governance, licensing requirements and enablement. This evidence-based blueprint, compiled by trusted and experienced experts, made it possible for the Trust to create a compelling business case for change. It was a major accomplishment for the Trust’s informatics team that the capital case was approved faster than ever before, taking just ten days.

By approaching this in the way that we have, we’ve overturned a common assumption in the public sector and NHS – that it’s hard to get things done. Actually, with a clear vision and exceptionally good outputs, we’ve been able to move at a pace that’s not normally expected in an NHS setting. (NHS Trust Informatics Leader)

As external CACI healthcare consultants, we have a privileged viewpoint, because we work with a range of NHS Trusts and can identify common challenges, barriers and imperatives. By applying this insight, we help NHS leaders access a system-wide perspective that can make a big difference in achieving their data effectiveness goals.

Get the full picture with our Data Effectiveness white paper

In this blog, we’ve shared an example of our user-centred NHS data effectiveness approach in practice. If you’d like to know more about the rationale and how it’s evolved, as well as how it’s designed to tackle key issues in the complex NHS environment, we’d love you to read our white paper. 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