Blog: Creating a new community for Healthcare Data Analysts

The above quote is from Martin Bardsley in a thought paper published by the Health Foundation,
Understanding analytical capability in health care: Do we have more data than insight? (2016). Martin also identifies that there are a number of initiatives that can support improvements in the analytical workforce, including education and training, professional development and networking.

The Five Year Forward View and the emergence of Sustainability and Transformation partnerships bring analytics to the change and transformation agenda. The ability to collect, aggregate and analyse the data generated by the NHS and health and care organisations is not only critical to delivering the triple aims of healthcare, but also underpins the NHS and wider life sciences research strategies.

It’s not enough to maintain the status quo, where analysts routinely fulfil reporting requirements. STPs/ Accountable Care Systems / Vanguards etc. require more sophisticated modelling and analysis, e.g. linking and analysing data across pathways and services, sophisticated modelling for the future shape of services and risk profiling to target limited resources, to name just a few examples. Leaders and decision-makers need access to meaningful insights, enabling them to make informed strategic decisions.

This means analysts need the skills, tools, capability and capacity to generate insights from their data – and encourage them to respond to the current need for high-quality analysis in the change and transformation environment.

So, what is the Regional Intelligence Analysts Network?

The South West Academic Health Science Network (SW AHSN), in collaboration with The Association of Professional Healthcare Analysts (APHA) and the Peninsula Collaboration for Health Operational Research and Development (PenCHORD) recognise that there is an important role for analysts across the South West to support system change and transformation. We have developed the Regional Intelligence Analysts Network (RIAN) to provide learning, development, networking and collaboration opportunities.

The objective of the RIAN is clear; to bring together analysts to build a network of skills, capabilities and knowledge within the South West with sufficient capacity to support a process of transformational change across health and care organisations.

Between December 2016 and February 2017, we asked analysts what skills and development opportunities would most benefit them.

Here’s what they told us…

How have we responded to analysts?

In April 2017 we launched the Regional Intelligence Analysts Network. We introduced our working group members who are helping to shape and promote the Network; Caroline Powell (SW AHSN), Paul Stroner (HNS Improvement) Linzi Lancaster (Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust and APHA), Prof Martin Pitt (PenCLAHRC/PenCHORD and MASHNet) and Kelvin Grabham (NEW Devon CCG).

The working group highlighted some key issues including:
• There are very few dedicated development opportunities available for analysts;
• Analyst teams tend to act primarily as data processors and the skills and experience to analyse, interpret and present data haven’t necessarily been developed;
• Training is not always delivered by people who know the NHS so can be hard to make it relevant;
• There are some really good practical examples of innovative data analytics out there, but sharing is by chance rather than in any structured way, which leads to duplication of effort across organisations;

With help from partners, we have delivered another two development events; one focussed workshop on Modelling in Excel (delivered by Dr Dan Chalk of PenCHORD, University of Exeter) and our most recent event, Insight from Data. We always try to ensure that RIAN development events are a mixture of learning, sharing expertise from across the South West and not forgetting the vital networking time for analysts.

RIAN needs you!

Join the growing RIAN network if you want to:

  • share your tips, tools and analytical techniques;
  • showcase your projects for others to learn from;
  • keep up to date with development events and opportunities, including external training and learning events across the region.

Find us on the Knowledge Hub – South West Regional Intelligence Analysts Network. This group welcomes all professional analysts within healthcare including, public health, local authority social care, voluntary and community organisations and social enterprises in the South West.

You can also keep up to date with RIAN events by signing up to the SW AHSN newsletter here. The newsletter from the RIAN Modelling training event can be viewed here and the newsletter from the RIAN Insight for Data event can be viewed here.

If you are responsible for data, information, insight, performance or healthcare analysis and want to find out more about the RIAN, contact Anna via email:

Anna Coltman, Project Manager – Intelligence Hub, SW AHSN
I joined the SWAHSN in October 2016. Prior to this, I worked for a local authority providing research support and policy advice to the Corporate Leadership Team and Executive Councillors. As part of this role, I completed the Institute for Leadership and Management Level 5 in Leading Innovation and Change in the Workplace. I now lead on the development and promotion of the Regional Intelligence Analysts Network (RIAN) for the SW AHSN. The Network was launched in April 2017 and has held several learning and development events since its launch. The RIAN group is also active on the Knowledge Hub (KHub) and I currently help facilitate activity for Network members.

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