Improvement in the quality of health and care services depends on good-quality analytical support. We need to use data to identify areas of poor care, guide choices about priorities for care, improve efficiency and improve patient care. An organisation's analytical capability is their ability to analyse information and use it to make decisions. However, we know that in practice health and care systems are often not able to draw on high-quality analytical support. There is a shortage of people with the right skills and tools to do analysis, and collaborate with clinicians and managers on using their insights to improve care. This is exacerbated when the analysts we do have spend much of their time doing relatively lowvalue work – for example, compiling reports that aren't read. By investing in the analytical workforce, we will be able to unlock the full potential of data.
Advances in digital technologies have the potential to transform how care is delivered, but many of these benefits will not be fully realised by organisations without in-house analytical support. The current analyst workforce needs to develop its skill sets and be given leadership and support at senior levels in each organisation.
To get the most out of digital technologies, we need to recognise the importance of investing in the people who shape the information that is communicated and used. Though specialist academic, data-science roles are welcome, we also need people who can implement innovation. Where there has been investment in wider analytics (people, education, tools and techniques), there have been some favourable outcomes, as shown by the examples included in this report.