Information department in demand

Imperial College Healthcare is one of the largest NHS trusts and aspires to be a leading performer in areas of mortality, efficiency and quality. It is a very open-minded and innovative trust and is always piloting new ideas. Imperial Business Intelligence (IBI) provides insights that services within the trust can use to improve, and I help IBI enrich the data it produces. Dr Foster tools equip the trust with benchmarking against the Shelford Group and other trusts in the London region, which gives context to their performance and assurance to the organisation itself.

Working with Imperial over the past few years has helped me grasp the challenges that trusts face in the prevailing NHS environment and understand the pressure that these challenges create. Clinical, financial and operational functions all place high demands on IBI. Being based here, I can see how much it is being asked to do. The IBI team is very busy and staff have to multitask, plus ad hoc work comes in on top of that.

Mortality audits have been a significant area of focus for us, as the annual Quality Account includes mortality performance. I can give context to the data, helping the information team understand whether issues are national, regional, or specific to the trust.

Providing a wider view of healthcare services

Imperial College Healthcare is starting to use a business intelligence software tool and is putting Dr Foster metrics into this. The trust is keen to establish growth areas, so needs to work out which clinical areas it should be focusing on. I am often asked to provide market share analysis using the Dr Foster’s Healthcare Intelligence Portal (HIP) – the trust needs to know where there are market opportunities, and where it should be investing. HIP gives the trust a better understanding of the healthcare environment outside the four walls of the hospital.

I regularly meet with clinical teams to discuss market share reports, mortality metrics, efficiency, length of stay and readmissions. Large hospital trusts have medical directors and assistants, and for some data is not naturally their area of interest, but when you get a medical director who is interested in the data, it makes a difference.

An information-led future

The NHS is becoming better connected, with the hospital services and sites working more closely together, and this is definitely true of Imperial. The trust has invested heavily in data and intelligence and wants to maximise their potential.

In the future, the NHS will have to be increasingly agile when it comes to data use – information will be more embedded in functions within the hospital.

My in-depth knowledge of Imperial combined with my understanding of the Dr Foster tools creates a much stronger relationship and will undoubtedly help the trust tackle informational challenges in the future.