Being data-informed for better patient safety

Let’s talk numbers for a minute. According to various sources, humans are now producing 2.5 exabytes of data every day, and by 2025, global data production is expected to grow to 163,000 exabytes. To some people, that doesn’t mean much, but to those in the know, that is an extraordinary amount of data. Some organisations are focusing on being data-driven – that is – to drive a business with intelligent data for better business outcomes or decisions. I prefer to talk about being data-informed because data has the potential to inform a user if it is harnessed correctly. It doesn’t necessarily have to drive decision making or operational performance, but being informed can help make the right decision based on the vast amounts of data created.

The primary issue we have today is not the amount of data being produced, but our collective inability to exploit it for anything meaningful. It is estimated that only somewhere between 0.5 percent and 1 percent of data generated is being used for operational decision-making. One of the biggest questions I often ask clients or prospects is, how much could you improve if you harnessed just 5 percent to improve such metrics as patient safety, patient flow and reducing A&E waiting times, how much impact could this have on reducing cost and increasing patient safety?

Although this is an obvious challenge for so many, it can also be a clear opportunity. Making sense of what we call ‘Big Data’ should be a priority for every healthcare organisation. Data analytics can give insights into transactions, patients, systems and external environments to help companies identify opportunities, optimise performance, develop new business models, deliver more with less and avoid risks. If applied correctly, it could lead to organisations being data-informed and prepare themselves for the ongoing changes and challenges ahead.

Challenging times ahead

One of the biggest challenges for NHS practices face today is the need to reduce A&E waiting times, despite the growing strain placed on the NHS in terms of demand, funding, staffing and resources. It is also a priority, and always has been, to focus on better patient care and better patient flow so as to meet national standards and local expectations. Sometimes, standards and expectations form a juxtaposition, and the only remedy to deliver both could be data analytics.

The winter NHS crisis was one of the worst for many years, with rising waiting times, poor response and understaffing. Latest figures show there are about 243 million NHS appointments annually, that’s more than 460 appointments every minute. ‘Using more innovative technology’ has become a catch-all phrase for politicians, administrators, or anyone who wants to sound like they have a solution to the healthcare crisis.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been banging the drum for more digital services for a while, most recently saying he wants all patients to be able to access their medical records and book appointments via apps by the end of the year. Describing the next 10 years as the ‘decade of patient power’ Hunt paints a positive view of technology in the health industry.

A £4.2bn ‘personalised health and care’ programme by 2020 is an ambitious target, but without knowing which services are needed how can personalised healthcare be achieved? Leveraging patient data is the only way to achieve these transformation targets and improve efficiencies. Some steps are already being taken to achieve this and a partnership between NHS England and the Health Foundation – the Improvement Analytics Unit – is using data to show whether change projects are actually working. There is no question that healthcare facilities are aiming to be data-driven, but the future looks bright.

Draper & Dash’s Approach

Draper & Dash (D&D) is a healthcare data, insight, analytics and improvement company. Its solutions drive actionable insights, powered by superior information assets, which are tuned to each client’s precise requirements. D&D helps companies move beyond data analytics to deliver better business outcomes. More importantly, D&D is helping customers harness their data when we can make them data-informed, that’s when we see significant results.

D&D’s Patient Safety app is designed to enable nurses to track and monitor core patient safety indicators from complaints, falls and pressures ulcers, to hand hygiene and infection control. The solution focuses on core areas such as the number of complaint or incidents, admissions, level of harm, safety, thermometer, falls, pressure ulcers and hand hygiene.

Our clients have seen significant improvement in efficiency savings and operating theatres, whilst seeing reductions in patient falls, ED, Cancer and overall waiting times. Some Trusts that use D&D’s solutions have seen the following areas of improvement through the use of our analytics. We have supported our clients in reducing the volumes of patients waiting over 26 weeks for treatment.

This has helped our customers to meet their patient safety wait time goal whilst providing great patient care. We have helped organisations become data-informed, for example, to reduce the length of time patients waited in the Emergency Department for an assessment from 71 minutes to 11 minutes.