From London to Manchester!

June has certainly been a busy month for the Acumentice team, with not one but three key events.

Firstly, there was the HSJ Data & Analytics Forum on Wednesday 7 June at etc.venues in Fenchurch Street, where our Managing Director, Karina Malhotra, spoke as part of a panel discussion.

This was followed up the next day with the virtual Westminster Health Forum Conference, where our Principal Consultant, Philip Purdy, was one of several expert speakers.

Then, on June 14 and 15, Karina and our Director of Consulting Services, Stephen Hall, made their way to Manchester for the two-day NHS ConfedExpo.

Here, we provide a quick summary of the main takeaways from each.

HSJ Data & Analytics Forum

Attended by Karina, Stephen and Philip, this event had the goal of ‘unleashing the transformative potential of data to drive clinical and operational decision-making and enhance population health’. The three main themes were:

  • population health intelligence,
  • data governance,
  • and workforce.

The day was made up of keynote speakers, panel discussions, interactive discussion groups and networking opportunities.

Karina’s panel discussion, where she appeared alongside Joe Rafferty (CEO of Mersey Care NHS Trust) and Sarah Wilkins (Chief Digital Information Officer for North London Mental Health Partnership), revolved around turning analysis into action to overcome operational challenges.

Karina was particularly interested in talking about mental health waiting times, which don’t often make the headlines in the same way as acute waiting lists.

“Today I am here to talk about mental health waiting times, which I am personally very passionate about,” she said. “The number of people in contact with mental health services has grown by c40% since 2020 and now is approaching 2 million, but can we reliably say how long every one of these patients has been waiting? And if we can’t answer that, how do we go about improving things in a targeted way?”

She added: “Although data and analytics alone will never provide a silver bullet for reducing long waits – handled carefully, they can provide the foundation upon which to design interventions with a measurable impact.”

She pointed to Acumentice’s work in building a comprehensive pathway-based PTL/waiting list at Barnet Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust as just one such example. “Where we are not just counting how long patients are waiting for activity (first or second contact, for example), but measuring waits to outcomes that are important to patients, such as their first assessment and first treatment.”

“It’s one of those foundational solutions upon which an organisation can build vast amounts of intelligence and gain real insight into its functioning, such as understanding existing demand and capacity gaps, tracing waiting times bottlenecks and ensuring appropriate prioritisation of patients.”

Elsewhere, Ming Tang, the interim Chief Data & Analytics Officer at NHS England, delivered an informative session on how to unleash the transformative power of data across the NHS – a challenge for the NHS where there is often a lack of interoperability between organisations. It was therefore positive to hear about the work by NHS England to create the environments and infrastructure to support local and national innovation and collaboration.

It was one of many excellent sessions on the day, with a highly engaged audience throughout.

Westminster Health Forum

Speaking of worthwhile and engaging events, this is always the case with the online Westminster Health Forum conferences.

The focus of this conference was on utilising data to drive health and social care developments, with sessions on patient records, data protection, public trust in data, workforce development, service improvement and policy priorities.

In his presentation, Philip – who was speaking as part of the session named ‘Next steps for developing services through use of patient data’ – zoned in on the importance of consistent recording, low friction technology to ensure it’s easy to gather and record data accurately, and checks and assurance to make sure important decisions in real-time are based on the best available data.

“In any conversation about next steps in utilising data, particularly when we start taking very impactful direct care decisions based on it, we need to make sure that the recording and quality process is at the forefront of our minds,” Philip said.

“Many of the data-led developments that we have heard about can be vulnerable to different forms of data challenges,” he added, citing the use of different information to prioritise patients as part of elective recovery as one. “This is fundamentally reliant on accurate and up-to-date waiting lists with a consistent methodology for measuring. This becomes particularly important as these efforts extend over multiple organisations.”

In the same session, there was an interesting presentation from John Bowers, Liverpool Supporting Families Programme Data and Information Manager at Liverpool City Council, where he highlighted the need for better communication and collaboration between medical and non-medical bodies to help tackle health problems and health inequalities at root – thus reducing the strain on the NHS.

NHS ConfedExpo

Most recently, Karina and Stephen headed up to Manchester for the two-day NHS ConfedExpo. A joint venture between NHS Confederation and NHS England, it is one of the most significant health and care conferences of the year, with over 140 sessions delivered through keynotes, theatre sessions, workshops, feature zones and focused discussions.

Featured topics included:

  • Sustaining the workforce and innovation in the NHS,
  • Sessions celebrating the NHS’s upcoming birthday, and
  • Talks on AI, data leadership, automation, health inequalities and digital transformation.

There were also thought-provoking opening remarks from Lord Victor Adebowale, chair of NHS Confederation, who talked about the need to have uncomfortable conversations, especially when it comes to workforce health inequalities and how local ethnic groups are represented in the leadership of their local health systems. Plenty of food for thought there.

What all three events showed was the undeniable challenges the NHS faces, but also the spirit of innovation and collaboration at play to make things better and create solutions to complex problems.