HFMA 2020: conference told of analytics importance

Posted : December 4, 2020 - /

by Seamus Ward

03 December 2020

Covid-19 has raised the profile of healthcare analytics and this must be maintained once the pandemic is over, the HFMA annual conference heard.

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Paul Stroner (pictured), president elect of the Association of Professional Healthcare Analysts (AphA), said analysts played a significant role in improving patient and staff experience, operational and clinical services and clinical research. NHS and academic analysts have become more prominent during Covid, modelling the demand for personal protective equipment or demand and capacity, for example.

‘There’s lots of focus around demand and capacity and [questions like] when will the NHS be overwhelmed,’ he said. ‘What struck me is the lack of co-ordinated response between the nationally provided analysis and some of the tough questions at local level.’

There was no visible leadership of analysts at a national NHS level – currently the chief analyst post is vacant – and often, there was little investment in the technology to do the job, he added.

Rony Arafin (pictured below), AphA’s chief operating officer, told the virtual session on improving analytics for better patient care that NHS analysts needed professional recognition. ‘We are trying to develop professional accreditation, so analysts are recognised as a value-adding service to any organisation, while also driving up quality and consistency,’ he added.

Picking up the point, Mr Stroner said accreditation was vital. ‘We wouldn’t expect anybody to drive a car without being trained and licensed to do so. But we are happy to let anyone loose on a spreadsheet. I could potentially do more harm with a bad bit of analysis on a spreadsheet, than I could do with a car,’ he said.

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AphA is developing a nationally recognised analytical competency framework and career map, to help its members see the career path from joining the NHS as a junior analyst to becoming a chief analytical officer. Mr Stroner acknowledged NHS organisations can find it difficult to hire some of the most talented people for analyst positions due to the restrictions of Agenda for Change. AphA was lobbying to move analysts onto the same bands as scientific and technical posts, which would in turn increase their professional standing, he added.