Bridging the skills gap in healthcare analytics 

Nov 24, 2022 | Business Intelligence

Facing the toughest winter yet 

The need for actionable analytics has never been more evident.  

More people than ever before are waiting for hospital treatments. NHS England data shows that, for the first time in 2019, no A&E departments met the target of seeing 95% of patients within four hours. Record numbers of patients are waiting on trolleys, and with bed occupancy at 95%, it’s almost impossible to admit patients to the right ward. Even routine treatments, such as knee and hip replacements, have reached the highest ever levels – 4.45 million patients on waiting lists in October.  

Despite the efforts of clinicians and managers, and with frontline staff running themselves into the ground, it’s harder than ever to fight against the growing demand for services with scarce resources and too few staff. So, waiting times continue to rise across the UK and Ireland. 

Driving efficiency with analytics 

Given these capacity pressures, it’s vital that healthcare organisations run as efficiently as possible. Having a clear understanding of capacity and efficiency is essential. Analytics can transform administrative and clinical data into actionable insights, helping streamline operations and use resources more effectively to improve care and services.  

Yet healthcare organisations often fail to harness this insight because there aren’t enough people with the right analytical skills to make sense of the data that is being collected. 

Interesting numbers vs game-changing insights 

There’s a diverse range of maturity in analytics across the NHS. Some organisations have got sophisticated capabilities, while others have little or nothing in place. But even where there are well-established analytics teams, a lot of their time can be spent generating regular, mandatory reports which may or may not be read by leadership teams.  

True analytics involves a deep dive into linked data sets, unearthing valuable insights that provide meaningful guidance, leading to evidence-based decisions that streamline operational performance and optimise the patient experience. It’s a means of identifying opportunities to improve access and quality of care, rather than just reporting upwards. 

Challenges along the way  

The challenges on the road to achieving this are numerous. Before any analytics takes place, simply getting data out of live clinical systems, in the right format, in a timely, reliable way is difficult. Also, different staff groups can use different data sets and arrive at different conclusions. So the analytical teams need to build one single, unified source of truth. 

No matter what area, healthcare personnel need the ability to translate data sets into relevant, meaningful, actionable information for clinicians and management, which relies on them having the clinical knowledge, analytical ability and presentation skills to do this.  

No one said being a healthcare analyst is easy. 

Giving healthcare personnel the tools they need 

More investment in developing skilled analysts within hospital departments is needed to unlock the full potential of NHS data to benefit patients…but what can be done to help right now? 

Some departments build their own data warehousing or bring in private companies to take away the headache of their chaotic data-filled, or sometimes data-less, environments.  

But the key to driving efficiency in any healthcare organisation is to up-skill teams, so they are confidently using analytics with the purpose of reducing waiting times, providing enhanced patient satisfaction, or gaining deeper insights into efficiencies and cost-savings. By providing skills and a unified goal, analysts can use their current and growing skill set to make a real impact on the operational efficiency of their healthcare organisation, and more importantly, improve patient care.  

Find out more about learning healthcare analytics online with MedModus Academy 

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