The importance of data infrastructure

Andi Orlowski, ICHP’s Head of Business Intelligence
Andi Orlowski, ICHP’s Head of Business Intelligence

Earlier this year the New Care Models Population Health Analytics Network held an event in London where I was delighted to run a workshop on Data Infrastructure. Data infrastructure includes both information gathering and storage and is a crucial part of population health analytics.

Connected data models

During the workshop we drew on the insights of two of the leading connected data models in England: the Kent Integrated Data Set (KID) programme and our own Whole System Integrated Care Dashboard Programme (WSIC) in North-West London (NWL). Each of these models has taken a different approach to gaining the right permissions for accessing and analysing their data:

  • Direct care with the WSIC Dashboards;
  • Whole system planning (demand and capacity modelling) for the KID programme.

Crucially, through an iterative learning process over several years, each organisation has managed to not only bring together primary and secondary care datasets, but has also expanded into community health, mental health and wider determinants of health from social care.

Systems Dynamics methodology

Dr Abraham George was there to provide more detail on what they have achieved with the Kent dataset. This project links administrative data from up to 260 NHS and local government organisations for a Kent and Medway population of more than 1.8 million. It is helping towards local demand and capacity modelling projects using Systems Dynamics methodology, as well as service evaluation to help leaders in Kent to see exactly how changes in different risk factors or services can impact on outcomes and demand in the future.

The programme was established to achieve whole system integrated care, with everyone working together through a shared dashboard.

Amanda Lucas, Programme Director of the NWL WSIC Dashboard programme, explained how the programme was established to achieve whole system integrated care, with everyone working together through a shared dashboard. The project has a significant footprint covering over 2 million people, across 8 local boroughs and 8 CCGs, including acute and specialist hospitals, GP practices, and community and mental health trusts. By signing the Information Sharing Agreement (ISA) each individual organisation gains access to the dashboards, with the ability to link back to their own patient level data – over 700,000 patients records have been connected so far.  A number of disease specific radars are being developed and added to the WSIC dashboards, such as the diabetes radar, and the team are planning to develop more dashboards based on the priorities identified by the STP.

Lessons about data management

Both projects have a huge amount to teach us about data management – from Information Governance (IG) to target architecture, data quality standards, business rules for measurement, and education and training.  This includes important implementation lessons, such as what sensitive read codes to exclude in order make it easier to establish an ISA with each organisation.  Within the Population Health Analytics Network, our ambition is to take the lessons from projects likes KID and WSIC and create core templates for everyone to follow, such as template ISA / data sharing agreements (DSAs) and pre-specified read codes for data extraction.

And what of the future?

What if we can start bringing together data sets such as KID, WSIC and other connected data sets across the country? Once the data infrastructure is in place the opportunities for more advanced analytical assessments and evaluations becomes very exciting.

You can follow Andi on Twitter.