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Big data: Working with the AHSN in Wessex to identify the challenges facing our Emergency departments

24 January 2018

 A team from the CLAHRC and AHSN in Wessex has been working to model and analyse data from two major Accident and Emergency departments in the south of England.

Within the AHSN is the Centre for Implementation Science or CIS. The team in CIS and the Data Science team from CLAHRC Wessex has been using data generated by hospitals in Portsmouth and Basingstoke to examinie how A and E departments work.

The analysis and modelling looks at patient numbers anf the flow of patients through the hospital. This information helps NHS managers make decisions about how to organise the Emergency Department and how to cope with high demand at peak times.

What the team has found is that increasingly A dn E departments are showing the 'symptoms' of increased demand, that come from other factors inside and outside the hospital. That insight is backed by some national A and E data (from 2012-2016) which when analysed shows many factors to do with high demand come from external issues.

Overloaded A&Es – Have we got this all wrong? Dr Brad Keogh

Why do we need evidence? At a time when the NHS has limited resources and increases in demand for its services, it seems prudent to only make changes to the service once you are reasonably certain that what you might do may be in the interest of the patients and staff in the system. By enforcing top-down changes to services with little or no evidence of benefit to patients or staff we are using more of this precious resource for no clear benefit. As an engineer coming into the healthcare sector several years ago to do data analytics, it has always surprised me how few decisions in the management of NHS services are made with robust quantitative analysis. It is also a contrast to the evidence based decision making and protocols within medicine. My thought for you: “why can’t we have evidence based service management as well as evidence based medicine?“ read blog >

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