Skip to content
Jason BrownJan 10, 2022 7:16:11 AM3 min read

3 ways data can improve clinical outcomes

When at the heart off what makes an organisation successful, it does not matter whether it is commercial or public sector, success is based on the quality of the service provided. For a farming business, that will be the quality and quantity of produce created to help feed the nation. For the NHS it is about delivering fantastic patient experience to as many people as possible. For our business, success is helping our customers use that little thing called data to deliver better service.

In the NHS, analytics needs to be ultimately in the service of improving clinical care and we are proud of all our customers who do that day in, day out. At this time of year, there are such severe challenges for the NHS and it is a privilege for us to assist in facets of that challenge – but how do you turn data into clinical good?

1. Naturally improve processes

Managing a ward has always required lots of information. Which beds are free, what are the patient’s conditions, how many patients are due, when will beds be freed etc. Getting that information has also required a lot of time and effort. It is not always a question of how we can give clinicians MORE information, but instead how can we give them enough information, exactly when they need it in a way that supports rather than detracts from their clinical priorities.

Therefore, when you give clinicians live, trusted data from all the sources they require, on their devices or even instantly visible on wall-mounted panels, their relationship with it changes. It becomes a resource to be exploited and not something that drains time. One example of this is the way that processes have been improved at NHS Tayside following their Athena implementation, heavily reducing the 2 hours a day of charge nurse time that was lost to information-sharing huddles. The analytics takes the work away and leaves the nurses to do what they are passionate about by taking the part of the process away that did not directly benefit patients.

2. Empower decisions

The main issue with analytics teams designing reports and dashboards is that they can do a fantastic job of meeting requests and requirements but it is beyond their scope to predict what the end users will need in the future. A hallmark of beautiful and engaging analytics is that they engender a natural  increase in data literacy within an organisation, which in turn means users put more questions to their data.

Our experience tells us that, most of the time, before analytics will give you an answer it will give you many more questions that, as they are answered, let your users build a rich and nuanced view of their organisation. That is why it is so important that the data they engage with is both deep and associative as well as self-service (or easily modified) – so that they can answer their questions at the speed of thought and not become bogged down in dead ends.

This approach has led to fantastic results at NHS Tayside, enabling their winter team to develop a public facing winter tier system. Through this they have been setting expectations for their patients, communicating clearly and accurately the levels of service they can expect and how best to engage with the Trust.

3. Enable responsiveness

When managing something as variable as a hospital, processes are what keep it ordered and the ability to adapt those processes is what keeps it responsive to challenges. Traditional ways of building data models are good at dealing with order but not so good when it comes to responding to challenges. Good analytics helps responsiveness at all levels of the organisation. For example, previously at NHS Tayside a crisis at 3am would require duty managers to drive themselves to site and gather the information manually before they can put together the necessary strategy to deal with the crisis. Now, this can be done from any location, aided by accurate and live information. This significantly reduces the time to action when it is most needed.

The other way of looking at this is through the prism of the challenge around Covid. With confidence that all levels of the management and clinical team had the right information and could respond quickly if the situation changed or the approach wasn’t working, NHS Tayside have responded proactively to the duel challenges of Covid combined with winter pressures. Beds and staff resources have been deployed dynamically with new processes that have helped NHS Tayside deal with the demands of this horrendous time.


Catalyst BI are experts at bringing people and data together.

Find out how we support the NHS to do more with data.