Promoting the healthcare analytics profession in London
Ruth Holland, Deputy Chief Information Officer at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (ICHT) and Branch Lead for London at AphA, discusses the importance of promoting and strengthening the healthcare analytics profession in London and across the UK.
I joined AphA in 2017 after I heard AphA president, Paul Stroner, speak at the unofficial launch of the AphA London branch at the University of Westminster, back in the day when face to face meetings were normal. His presentation was like music to my ears.
Those of us who have worked in healthcare analytics for longer than we care to admit, have often felt that we don’t have the same structure and network as some of our other non-clinical professional colleagues who have regular conferences and qualification paths. I knew that as a professional group, analytics could do better.
In this data age, analytics functions in the NHS have more demand than capacity, and there’s not much time for networking, which is why I was so grateful and impressed when AphA was established. I have been involved since those early days of AphA in London because the opportunities AphA provides for healthcare analytics as a profession are essential both for now and analysts in the long-term.
Being a branch manager
I had the chance to attend my first AphA conference last year and I was so inspired I put my name forward to write articles for AphA’s magazine with another member of my team. After this I was approached to be London’s branch lead and, despite having little spare time, I said yes without hesitation because I know how important AphA is for our profession.
AphA is aiming to create a growing UK community by strengthening its regional networks, and a large part of my role is to help London analysts understand the benefits of membership and encourage them to get involved. By developing these networks, we can understand what else is happening in healthcare analytics across the country and share best practice.
I want to make sure the London branch is as strong and inclusive as possible. I speak about AphA at London conferences and BI leads meetings, and I actively promote AphA to my team of over 50 analysts at ICHT by encouraging them to become members and to attend the annual conference even if they are not a member. I want them to get bitten by the bug and convert to membership as well.
To help spread the word, I have recently recruited a new deputy branch lead for South East London and I am looking to recruit deputy branch leads in the other Integrated Care Systems in London in the near future.
My aim is to establish frequent opportunities to network within the London branch and between other UK branches. I also want more training opportunities to be provided and to connect with other organisations offering analytics skills training, such as the London Skills Development Network, and to offer proactive mentorship opportunities within the branch.
By connecting analysts and sharing experiences we have a better chance of keeping good analysts in the NHS and also inspiring analysts to join the NHS from commercial organisations.
Engaging potential healthcare analysts
Developing AphA is important not only for existing analysts but to help new analysts coming into healthcare. By providing a more structured healthcare analytic experience with a competency framework and professional registration, we can attract more people into the profession.
I’m keen to see a future where job applicants put their professional registration on their CV and as part of the application. My aim would be for it to become a shortlisting criterion in the future. I want to promote that and sign people up to that.
Today, there’s a lot more happening than ever before. Not only does the Health Foundation see analytics as a skill to invest in, but the NHS graduate scheme has established a health analytics specialism, and that’s a really positive step.
Going from strength to strength
Analytics is a function of growing importance, much as I.T. was 10 years ago. Analysts are absolutely part of multi-disciplinary teams. At the moment no one knows how many healthcare analysts there are in the UK, and that has to change.
While that change is long overdue for the profession we’re now on the right path and I’m so pleased to see us all come together. AphA absolutely needs to steer and influence that discussion and in the past year things really have been pushing forward. Changes to the AphA board and the representation and reach that has been established is phenomenal.
I want to continue to see AphA go from strength to strength. That’s why I’m happy to be part of that ongoing change for London – to help develop the profession over years to come.
The people involved with AphA are all wonderful and extremely enthusiastic. I encourage people to step forward and get involved, there are lots of ways to do it. All are welcome.
Go to www.aphanalysts.org/