Ideal Health, a digital healthcare and transformation consultancy company, took part in our recent HTN Now Focus day on Analytics, AI and Data.
A panel, consisting of four members from the Ideal Health team, hosted a live webcast to discuss how improving data and analytics can enhance practice and patient experience.
Chairing the panel was Katy Lethbridge, Ideal’s Marketing Director, who was joined by her colleagues Basil Badi, a consultant who has a background in NHS data management, Mark Sulston, a health IT expert, and former nurse who works with Ideal on HIMSS assessments, and Zachary Swann, a former nurse, and Ideal’s Director of Advisory Services.
“We’ve worked with over 150 organisations on digital transformation programmes, at local, regional, national levels and now also at an international level, through our office in Dubai,” Katy explained, as she introduced the session and the speakers.
“Our panel of experts are going to explore the challenges and requirements, but also the potential solutions of delivering data and analytics, and information that can create a really accurate picture of a patient’s care to enable both improvements in practice and also patient experience and safety,” she said.
Katy then kicked-off the discussion by asking our experts about the challenges the NHS currently has with data analytics.
Basil was first to tackle the topic, stating, “From my perspective, things are definitely getting better with every iteration. The amount and availability of information has grown exponentially over the last decade. However, I think there are still fundamental issues – things like overcomplicated visualisations, interfaces, system integration, limitations, and over complicated and unintuitive system workflows. All these lead to poor data quality and poor compliance.
“In turn, this will lead to ineffective pathway management and then has an impact on patient care, ultimately, not to mention the financial aspects as well.”
“I think, if we focused on more intuitive EPR [Electronic Patient Record] design, this would just provide less reliance on training and give more time to clinicians to actually treat patients,” Basil added.
Mark commented: “Reporting and analytics have always been fairly reactive, quite resource-heavy [with] teams of people required to do various corrections, validations, final reporting and all those iterations…as far as the challenges [go] at the front end, clinical datasets have existed, if not in isolation, then without as much stewardship or management of these data.
“Systems are often implemented without the ability to embed clinical terminology, for example, and this kind of thing can prevent us being able to fully evaluate quality [and] completeness – because we haven’t established those formal datasets aligned to patient pathways. The current push to share these clinical datasets can run aground based on the lack of that data or semantic interoperability, requiring further mapping and maintenance based on that new context for the data.
“At the back end, I think we need to be more aware of the end-to-end data flows – what’s happening with these data, where they are going. With analytics activities, we need to become a bit more focused on prediction, availability of information, getting nearer to real-time information, to fully support clinical users.”
On the role that analytics can play, Zachary added: “At an individual level, the current systems we have now are designed to actually help clinicians to make decisions. But, if you want to look at patterns, across whole groups and cohorts of patients, you need an analytic platform, as well. That helps you to gain insight.
“What can go wrong when we implement these systems? For me, I’ve seen implementations of systems where, for example, a free text clinical note wasn’t disabled, and the intention was that nobody would use it. But unfortunately, that wasn’t communicated to the user base…that creates a kind of silo because other people weren’t using it. I’ve also seen implementations where new systems have been put in, but old systems haven’t been switched off and there’s been confusion.”
Exploring the approaches to meet those challenges, Mark spoke of HIMSS assessments as a tool to combat issues, stating: “Sometimes we take two or three of these assessments to get a broader view of what’s happening digitally within a trust, either to support strategy or funding.
“What kind of issues do those tools expose? Integration issues, missing identifiers, missing ability to support a visit…. when it comes to sharing data, if uncertainty of meaning is introduced, there’s a problem that has the potential to grow, the further away it gets from the source data. Things like implementation shortcuts, using a pdf or textual lab results instead of a discreet numeric structured result – that could lead to data, effectively, being unusable and incomparable to data from other sources.”
On change management, and linking people and data, Zach commented: “That really is about having a much more culture-centred approach…getting value out of our data, making sure people don’t see it being an imposition…so that we can get to a point where data is being collected correctly, it’s being stored in the right places, it’s then being translated into information, and then being presented to the user in such a way that they can actually use it in their decision making.”
Basil then revealed his thoughts on improving data, explaining it’s about “listening to the client…in most cases they know what the problems are – they just don’t have the time or the capacity to deal with them,” and highlighting the need for healthcare providers not to stop after a go-live but to keep optimising to make sure the system is being used to its best advantage.
The team also covered a range of other topics, including master data management and how to improve it, with Mark saying, “it’s about data ownership and data stewardship…it will typically sit with a subject matter expert…whether it’s a chemotherapy system, a pharmacy system, a prescribing system…that will fall under the ownership and the stewardship of that subject matter expertise. That’s really an effective means of stepping back from firefighting issues within individual systems and getting the complete system view.”
To conclude the session, Katy then asked the group to sum up the outcomes and benefits of the highlighted solutions, with Basil focusing on optimised systems, more efficient workflows and effective capacity management, and Zach noting the need for greater trust in data and regarding it as a key asset, better patient care and experience, and the ability to use preventative and personalised medicine through population health management.
While Mark’s final thoughts mentioned areas such as using analytics for improving system use and compliance, as well as “more complete data, higher quality analytics, and better-informed decision making”.
Catch up on the full session here: