Jack Ettinger, Senior Health Economist at the Health Economics Unit (HEU), will be speaking and joining a panel discussion at the HIMSS European Health Conference and Exhibition in Helsinki, Finland, on 15 June. Below Jack previews of some of the topics he’ll be covering and his thoughts on what he hopes to take away from attending the event.
HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) is a US-based not-for-profit organisation with a focus on improving healthcare through data and technology. It probably isn’t as well-known currently in the UK, but it has been supporting the global healthcare community for more than 60 years and has around 110,000 members worldwide. The 2022 HIMSS European Health Conference and Exhibition is an opportunity for a whole range of people in the European healthcare community to come together to share ideas, collaborate and make connections.
The main topic I plan to talk about is on the work we at the Health Economics Unit are doing to drive population health management (PHM) approaches using data. However, as one of a small number of speakers from the UK, I will also be giving an update on where we are as a nation in terms of healthcare analytics and PHM. It’s a great opportunity to share some of the innovative projects we’re involved in at HEU and learn from other experts in the digital healthcare world.
Some of the key areas I aim to cover include:
1. The changing structure of the NHS
PHM is a key part of our national policy, as outlined in the NHS Long-Term Plan. I plan to provide an update on the move towards integrated care systems (ICSs). ICSs are designed to deliver a shift towards a structure where all parts of the system work together to improve the health of a local population, address inequalities in care and ensure money is spent wisely.
There are also some interesting developments in emerging data platforms in the UK. NHS England has recently opened the process to develop a ‘Federated Data Platform’, with a tender value of around £240million, which should bring us up to date with other European nations.
2. Developing the healthcare analyst profession
NHS England’s CEO, Amanda Pritchard recently said “A good analyst can save more lives than a good anaesthetist”, and at HEU we are passionate about raising the profile and extending the impact of the healthcare analyst profession to ensure we really can save more lives.
I will be talking during my presentation about the various networks and communities which have really come to the fore in the UK in recent years. For example, the NHS-R and Python communities for education and knowledge sharing, and membership bodies such as AphA who are striving to professionalise the profession and bring about a clear career framework.
I’d also like to give a quick overview of the Ben Goldacre review, commissioned by the Department for Health and Social Care last year, which makes several strong recommendations in relation to better use of data analysis to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of health services in the UK.
3. Supporting decision makers
Key to our work at HEU is supporting decision makers in the NHS with the tools and techniques they need to make PHM driven decisions. We see that the amount of data available to leaders isn’t the limiting factor; it’s more about their limited capacity to integrate the insights they have into their decision making and how they can understand what is important and how to include it in their planning.
For example, we’ve been working with four ICSs to promote the use of the STAR (Socio-technical allocation of resource) approach to drive smarter spending. STAR is about taking a common-sense approach to moving various resources around the system to create additional value (in terms of patient quality of life) without spending more.
However, there are concerns that this approach could fail to capture other important sources of value, and so NICE have been looking at different ways to support decision making. Multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) is another option we can work with, which supports decision-makers faced with multiple and conflicting criteria to narrow them down to the most important factors.
I’m really looking forward to joining the conference. It is quite rare for us to get the opportunity to network and discuss ideas with people from outside of the NHS – and doing so face to face still feels like a big plus! It should also be a great opportunity to learn about what other countries in Europe are doing on the digital population health agenda. I’m sure I’ll be able to pick up some guidance and new ideas we can learn from to improve the way we work here in the UK.