Nicole Bilham, Senior Delivery Manager at NHSX and Digital Pioneer Fellow, shares how she and her team brought together the data and analytics community in response to Covid-19 and created what is now the national AnalystX forum.
The pandemic hit in early 2020; with the first national lockdown in March impending, the NHS was preparing for the greatest challenge it had faced since coming to be in 1948. I was working in the Population Health Management (PHM) team at NHS England and Improvement at the time and realised quickly that the role of data and analytics in tacking Covid-19 could not be underestimated. It was clear that the best and brightest would need to come together quickly to respond the immediate demand for population risk profiles, predictive models and demand and capacity planning tools and that was just the start. I had managed the PHM Community of Practice and PHM Academy in my role for over a year so had an appreciation for the talent out there in the system to develop these invaluable resources. This is when I got the call to lead on the strategy and operations of bringing together the data and analytics community virtually at speed to support with the Covid-19 response and enable the creation of what is now known as ‘AnalystX’.
Originally intended to be an internal forum for analysts working at NHS England and Improvement hosted on the FutureNHS platform, AnalystX has grown inordinately and now as of August 2021 sits at over 15,000 data professionals, analysts or those who have an interest in these disciplines. The growth of the community has been organic and that is very much a result of the passionate and diligent team of volunteers that I have worked closely with to curate the site to over the past 18 months. The team have proactively engaged with the membership to develop and create a taxonomy of content that has consistently added value as the international Covid-19 landscape has evolved. The scope of content has grown inordinately with resources that will outlive the pandemic and continue to meet the longer term needs of the increasingly broad membership from across health and social care as well as industry and the voluntary sector that are invested in driving the use of data and analytics for good.
Pivotal to its success has been the community’s clear mission statement ‘to connect and empower the data and analytics community’ and its vision from the outset ‘to create a thriving community leading the movement for data driven, evidence-based decision making by sharing learning across health and social care beyond typical organisational and geographic boundaries’. Both of these were established in collaboration with the membership.
The community has also developed a set of core values that are fundamental to all of its shared activities. Below I have outlined some of these (with links if you want to take a closer look);
- Collaborative – There have been 80+ huddles hosted and recorded on numerous topical and technical aspects of data and analytics with members from all professional backgrounds sharing their work on a weekly basis.
- Leadership – Subject matter experts lending their time to support the community particularly through the AnalystX Champions Programme and Fika Podcast.
- Innovative – A rich Strategic Partners programme currently with 34 partners including organisations like AWS, Microsoft, Google, techUK and AphA that support the development of new community content and initiatives.
- Trusted – The site shares data, dashboards and models as well as evidence and research reviews in a timely manner from trusted and peer reviewed sources.
- Impactful – The site houses a broad range of learning materials that have been curated to meet the varying needs of colleagues working across the numerous professional specialisms of data analytics.
AnalystX is fundamental to the future professionalisation agenda for data and analytics and building the necessary capacity and capability within the system to realise the ambitions in the 2021 data strategy, ‘Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data’. This is in addition to being a key enabler of the wider population health objectives within the 2019 Long Term Plan, which are very much an unwavering priority for health and social care beyond the pandemic.
Now that you know a little bit more about AnalystX please get involved and support the community to continue to work more collaboratively and in the open, transcending organisational boundaries through stronger partnership working.
To become a member of AnalystX on FutureNHS (which is open to all) just click here or go even further with your organisation joining our strategic partners programme! For more information please email the team at email@example.com.
Some reflections from the team and wider membership on being part of the AnalystX community;
- ‘We are on a course to show how the collective brain power across health and care analytical teams can be harnessed as a force of good! We transcend organisational boundaries and old parochial ways of working.’ Sukhmeet Panesar Deputy Director, Data, Analytics and Intelligence Services NHS England and Improvement
- ‘Being involved in the creation of AnalystX since the get-go, we are delighted to see how the community has grown over the past 18 months and the impact it has had across health and social care. Furthermore, we welcome the progress AnalystX has made in helping to build strong partnerships between the healthcare technology industry and the system. techUK and its members stand ready to support the community as it moves forward with its ambition to lead the movement for data-driven, evidence-based decision making and commend the work of colleagues from NHS England and Improvement that have made this possible’ Leontina Postelnicu, Head of Health and Social Care at techUK
- ‘The creation of AnalystX is a big stride forwards in cross organisation collaboration, and is accelerating innovation across the NHS. Bringing together such a broad and deep pool of talent with a shared goal has the potential to create a step change in how the NHS leverages the power of its data and cutting edge technology for the benefit of the nation as a whole’ Tom Allen, NHS Lead at Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- ‘The analyst profession, one that is often considered introverted, has highlighted the power of community with the successes of AnalystX. Driving shared learning and improvement across all health and care, the community provides numerous opportunities for all levels, from those starting their careers to experts’ Sophie Hodges, Project Manager and Analyst at NHS England and Improvement, and Graduate Management Trainee Alumni
- ‘Being part of such an impactful and inspiring community has been truly exceptional to empower data and analytics professionals to collaborate together across the health and social care landscape. This innovative and passionate community has achieved huge results and through the networks having enabled each other to grow.’ Jowita Skweres Senior High Touch Success Manager at Tableau
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