Northdoor plc help MTW NHS Trust implement a cross-county data analytics BI reporting solution

Shared healthcare analytics platform reduces cost and accelerates insight to improve hospital services and patient journeys.

2nd December 2022Insight VideosRichard Hartill

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Northdoor helps Maidstone Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust implement a cross-county data analytics BI reporting solution

In this short insightful interview, Northdoor’s Richard Hartill talks to James Jarvis, Assistant Director of Business Intelligence at Maidstone Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust about the importance of replacing their legacy reporting infrastructures and improving their data insight capabilities. 

The shared data analytics platform which Northdoor designed and implemented for the NHS Trust delivers vital information to support the management of hospital services and to provide assurance around the quality and safety of patient services, ultimately resulting in a better patient experience.

The key outcomes are:

  1. Modernisation of the Trust’s analytics and BI reporting capability
  2. Enhanced data security
  3. The standardisation and automation of business intelligence report generation, and the ability for users to self-serve
  4. Cost reduction (by sharing the platform with local NHS partner organisations)
  5. Reducing the time to insight

Video Transcription

Recognising a need to improve BI reporting capabilities

Richard [00:00:03] Hello. I’m Richard Hartill, the Public Sector Client Manager at Northdoor the award-winning, I.T. consultancy. Today, I’ve got with me James Jarvis, the Associate Director of Business Intelligence at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust. Hello, James. It’s nice to have you with us. 

James [00:00:22] Hi Richard. Nice to be here. 

Richard [00:00:22] So, James, when we met probably two years ago now, you explained to me that you recognised there was a need to improve the reporting capability at the hospital and also to put in a solution that could be utilised cross-county as well. I think you’d said that there was some legacy reporting infrastructure in place there was an old data warehouse which was aligned to the Maidstone Hospital. You were using some legacy BI tools, Excel and some point solutions there, and there was a recognition for a need to put in an enterprise-level BI tool. Can you tell us a little bit about, you know, how you got to that point of realising that something better was required please. 

James [00:01:13] Yeah, so we’ve got a really good team of analysts at the Trust, what we found was they were spending a lot of their time manipulating data in spreadsheets rather than actually analysing the data and driving insight from it. We also found that it was very difficult to automate our reporting and to standardise that to an extent which made it hard to share with users and also sometimes led to errors creeping into those reports. 

Richard [00:01:37] Sure. Okay, so there was a recognition that you wanted to bring in an enterprise-level solution that could solve some of those problems and probably introduce some additional benefits as well. 

James [00:01:50] Absolutely. 

Richard [00:01:51] Okay. So, in terms of how you went about undertaking that project, tell us a little bit about why you chose Power BI.

Why Microsoft’s Power BI was the perfect fit

James [00:01:59] One of the key factors was the fact that Microsoft is obviously a company that we’re familiar with. We use Microsoft tools within the trust, so the familiarity of those products and the adoption of Power BI as a tool was felt to be easier because of that. We’d done a bit of market testing, so we’d seen what products were available on the market, we’d spoken to other NHS trusts to see what their experience of using that tool was, which was generally positive. We looked at things like the Gartner Magic Quadrant, which obviously Power BI scores very well in and that kind of informed our choice really.

Richard [00:02:34] Yeah. Okay, and I think you mentioned that you also discussed internally with the teams as to whether is the most appropriate tool and they felt that it was the right tool because of their familiarity with Microsoft products. 

James [00:02:45] Absolutely, yeah. 

Richard [00:02:45] And also adoption, bringing that new tool into the team and the utilisation of that. 

James [00:02:51] Yeah, it was a key selling point for us. Yeah. 

Richard [00:02:53] Okay, and some people might say, well, you know, what is the importance of report generation within a hospital? Yes, we may understand that within a bank or a business. But, you know, in terms of a hospital, what’s the need of the reports and what do they achieve? 

James [00:03:12] Increasingly, data is becoming very important within the running of NHS services and I think going through the Covid period highlighted the need to understand where Covid patients were in the hospital and their length of stay, their outcomes in terms of mortality and stuff like that. And the services got used to using data in close to real-time to manage those pathways and patients. Also, information is needed to manage performance to ensure we are hitting our KPIs and the metrics that we have to adhere to, as well as providing assurance to our board and our executive team around the sort of quality and safety of our services. And that same sort of information really to the people who commissioned our services and regulate them, such as the CQC and NHS England and Improvement.

Richard [00:03:59] Okay, wow and when we first talked about the reports that you were generating, I think you gave me one example which blew me away and gave me the understanding of that importance. Could you tell us a little bit about that? 

James [00:04:15] Yeah, of course. So one of the reports we’ve developed is an ED dashboard, Emergency Department dashboard, which provides a close to real-time view of our two units so you can see how many patients are in the department, how long they’ve waited for triage, for treatment and to be discharged, how many patients are waiting to be admitted into the hospital? So, that’s used by the operational management team within the emergency department. It’s up on a screen in a department so any of the staff can see that and see how things look and it’s also used by our site team that are managing admissions into the hospital and obviously discharges out the other end as well. So that’s been a really useful tool from an operational management perspective, but again, also monitoring some of those KPIs and targets that we have to adhere to as a Trust. 

Replacing legacy infrastructures and improving reporting capabilities 

Richard [00:04:59] Okay. So James, when we first started working on this project with the Northdoor team and your team. You know, you talked about the recognition that you were using an old data warehouse that was aligned only with the Maidstone Trust and also in terms of the BI reporting tools you were using Excel and point solutions rather than an enterprise-level BI solution. You’ve subsequently since then built out a new data warehouse which is shared cross-county, which follows the initiatives that are being set by NHS England and NHS Digital in terms of shared services and shared cost. And you’ve brought in Microsoft Power BI P1 Premium as the new BI tool. I think we talked about sort of four key areas that you were looking to enhance. One of those was the need within the NHS to share services and share costs. Obviously that’s been achieved with this solution, which is fantastic but we also talked about the other three. One was about time to insight, so, getting information to consumers, the consumers that you spoke of earlier, how has that objective been met with Power BI? 

James [00:06:32] So, we’re still on a journey with that if I’m honest. The reports that we have produced so far and published in the organisation, we’ve now got Operational Managers and Clinicians and some of our Senior Managers having access to those, so they’re able to access those without needing to go to the team and request access to those reports, which has speeded up that whole process and gives them the opportunity to self-serve and access information whenever they need it. And because it’s automated behind the scenes, it’s as close to real time as the data allows it to be at that point, rather than looking at kind of old and out-of-date reports, which might have been the situation previously. 

Richard [00:07:07] Sure, so that self-service was one of those key objectives. Allowing those users to self-serve and also to drill into the data through Power BI to get more insights from the data that’s available. 

James [00:07:24] Absolutely, and that’s our analysts as well as the consumers of the reports. We’ve got a number of people in the Trust who don’t work in the information team who are actually very skilled at using data and understanding what it’s telling them. So, we wanted to put that kind of power in their hands, rather than it always needing to be coming from our BI team, as it were. 

Richard [00:07:43] Yeah. Okay. One of the other key objectives was security and improving the security around the data and around who has access to the data and the service. Can you tell us a little bit about that please? 

James [00:07:59] Yeah. So, previously we were emailing out reports, we were saving information on to network drives for people to access routine reports, which is always open to security risks in terms of other people accessing things that you maybe wouldn’t want them to, as much as we always tried to safeguard that. Whereas, obviously the new solution we put in place enables us to give access to only the people who need access to that report using the tooling permissions within the tool. So it really does provide that sort of secure platform to enable access to that information.

Richard [00:08:34] Okay, fantastic. That’s good. And in terms of the benefits to the end users, what improvements have you seen I mean, even down to patient care level. How’s this project affected that? 

James [00:08:49] I think it’s helped with the flow of patients through some of our departments. So I mentioned the example with the emergency department and the dashboard that they are using sort of close to real time. I think that visibility of where patients are in the department and how long they’ve waited for various parts of their pathway has enabled patients to move through the department quicker. So I think that visibility of the information is helping, helping the patient flow. And it’s also helping the Operational Clinical staff to manage those patients through the departments as well, which has been great. 

Cross-county unification through enterprise-level BI reporting

Richard [00:09:22] Yeah. So overall improvement on service delivery, which then filters down to patient care outcome, effectively meaning a better patient outcome. That’s good. And what’s it been like working with Northdoor? 

James [00:09:34] Yeah, I think from from day one really, we found the company very approachable and not a kind of hard sell company, which resonated well with us. I found that they listened to what we were trying to achieve and were creative in trying to find a solution that would best fit our needs, rather than trying to give us something predefined that they’d used elsewhere, which we really appreciated. They’ve always been very available, contactable and very responsive to our needs. And I think together we’ve run a really good project and we’re starting to see the benefits of that now, but I can only see that kind of growing from what we’ve put in place, which is really exciting. 

Richard [00:10:15] Great. And had you spoken to other organisations before selecting Northdoor as the chosen partner? What was the feedback? 

James [00:10:23] Yeah, we did speak to a number of other companies that were on the various frameworks to see what other options there were and some had some very good solutions, but as I say, I did feel that they were trying to offer us something they’d deployed somewhere else rather than something bespoke for our needs, which is why I felt the Northdoor solution offered us and was really what we were looking for. 

Richard [00:10:45]  Yeah and the fact we had a reputation within the NHS. 

James [00:10:48] Absolutely.

Richard [00:10:49] And with Microsoft. So James, aside from the benefits of putting in an enterprise level BI Tool and the things that we’ve spoken about, like time to insights and better security and self service and the ability to have dynamic reporting capabilities. I think one of the great things about this project is the collaboration between the other organisations within the Kent County and the ability for that service to be shared and for the cost to be shared. Can you tell us a little bit about your thoughts on that and the benefits that brings please? 

[00:11:29] Yeah, definitely. I think that was one of the key drivers for the project, is that we wanted to create a solution that was something we could all benefit from as a system. So national policy for NHS is that systems should work closer together and collaborate wherever possible, and not just around patient care, but also in the back office areas such as this. So we were very keen to have a solution that enabled us to do that and to be able to share data between Trusts who previously worked in quite a siloed way. 

Richard [00:11:57] Yes 

The outcome

James [00:11:58] So the solution we put in place does enable us to set up secure workspaces and share information within those workspaces, so between providers, which was always far more difficult, and we’re now looking at how we can sort of extend that out to our commissioning colleagues as well, which will really reduce some of the duplication we have in terms of reporting and some of the struggles we have in terms of sharing information outside of Trust boundaries. So it’s the early stages of that at the moment it’s a capability we’ve got, and we’re just trying to work together to leverage that. I think one of the positive things we’ve seen is that we’ve established a group where we’ve got partners meeting regularly to talk about the work they’re doing and sharing best practise, which has been fun and also really sort of helpful in terms of shaping the design of reports in the local area. 

Richard [00:12:44] That sounds great. So real collaboration going on rather than perhaps historically people just looking after their own individual organisation. That’s amazing. That’s great. Great. Okay well, I mean, it’s been a pleasure working with you for the last two years and I’m looking forward to continuing working with you into the future and thanks very much for being with us today. 

James [00:13:05] Pleasure. Thank you. 

Richard [00:13:05] Thanks. 

Finalists at the HSJ Partnership Awards 2023

Northdoor and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust proudly announce that our shared healthcare analytics platform has been shortlisted for ‘Best Healthcare Analytics Project for the NHS’ at the HSJ Partnership Awards 2023.

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