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How to Improve Community Care Service Efficiency with Data Analytics

Friday 12 August 2016

Cuts in community and social care budgets are adversely affecting services provided by local care organisations. These were the findings from a King’s Fund NHS Monitoring report, which surveyed NHS Trust finance directors and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) finance leads.

The findings have been supported by statistics coming from NHS performance data, showing that over 5,000 patients have experienced delays in being discharged from hospital at the end of August 2015 – this was the highest delay at that time of the year since 2007.

A more recent study on council social care services found that they will struggle to cope with a £1bn shortfall in social care funding this year.

With the government making their stance very clear with regards to NHS funding, it seems as though community care organisations will have to think quickly in order to adapt and improve efficiency and reduce unnecessary costs all whilst maintaining a high-level of service.

Is Analytics the Answer?

A good place to start is in the information environment of a community care organisation. The life-span of technology is quite short compared with most other products and the NHS has developed a reputation in being slow in the uptake of newer, more efficient technologies.

Therefore there is a likelihood that some information systems are outdated and could be made more efficient providing a cost-saving. To find opportunities for improving efficiency, community care organisations must first identify which areas of their information environment are holding them back and whether they have the resources elsewhere to re-assign.

In one example, it was found that savings can be made by relying less on external analysts to build and share reports across the organisation, by using in-house IT staff instead. An initial investment was needed in order to acquire and implement the solution but over time it was proven to substantially reduce costs as the reliance on external analysts was negated because the in-house IT team were comfortable with creating the reports in the new solution themselves. This example rings true for one community care organisation who was able to save £500,000 annually.

Flexible Frameworks and Real-Time Intelligence

Critical to achieving success in any analytics project is collaboration and agility between all departments and clinical staff involved in the reporting and information capture process. By ensuring consistent collaboration at a high-level, a more flexible framework can be established where challenges and other issues encountered can be quickly resolved by steering the project in a slightly different direction.

Real-time intelligence is one such example of the need for collaboration and agility. Often regarded as the Holy Grail of analytics – every analyst wants access to the data as soon as it has been captured. Previously we have been limited by the technology available but there is now the capability to gain real-time insights on data. Unfortunately there are still many community care organisations who are yet to take advantage of this to transform their ability to find opportunities for improving internal efficiencies and service experience.

To support a real-time data intelligence implementation, a total integration of all data stored by the community care organisation is required. This is an area that has always been difficult to deliver as OLAP and in-memory technologies have proven difficult and time-ineffective to work with when bringing in new data sources.

A new approach is needed that is more agile and quicker in integrating data from any source and thus providing a complete picture of organisational performance and efficiency in real-time. With the budget restraints forced upon community care organisations, it means that they have to now look to other more modern and efficient technologies to cut unnecessary expenditure.

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