Public institutions such as the National Health Service in England increasingly want—and are expected—to base their actions on nationally agreed standards rather than anecdote. The collection and analysis of data, when done responsibly and in a trusted manner, has the potential to improve treatment and drive towards value, both social and economic, in healthcare. However, the goal of using data to improve the NHS and social care is hampered by a “talent gap” – a lack of personnel with data analytical skills – that stands in the way of uncovering the rich insights expected to reside in the NHS’ own data.
Informed by both a literature review and analysis as well as over fifty interviews with NHS and other experts, this report offers a multiplicity of proposed recommendations for meeting the data analytic talent gap and achieving greater institutional readiness without full-time hiring. These recommendations complement those made by the Health Foundation in its December 2016 focused on improved training and cross-organisational teams to enhance data analytical insight.
- The NHS should build a Project Marketplace like the environmental protection agency’s one EPA Skills Marketplace and help supply find the demand.
- The NHS should construct an NHS Data Lab modelled on the Ministry of Justice Data Lab to make better use of sensitive administrative data.
- The NHS should build an employee expert network like health and human services’ HHS Profiles and help the demand find the supply across the NHS.
- The NHS should set up a web-based help desk like the World Bank’s Skill Finder to accelerate the process of matching demand to supply.
- The NHS should build a single skill expert network modelled on the New York City’s Mayor’s Office volunteer language bank or the data justice network focused on data science.
- The NHS should use two-stage prize-backed challenges like the Harvard Catalyst Diabetes Challenge to augment the supply of internal data science capacity with external know-how.
- The NHS should use more foundation-funded fellowships modelled on the Presidential Innovation Fellowship to augment the supply of internal data science capacity with external know-how.
- The NHS should create an Open Data Learning Hub like the Commerce Data Usability Project for data scientists to grow its data science community.
- The NHS should establish a process to explore the creation of Data Collaboratives.
- The NHS should connect UK university know-how systematically to the NHS using a public-facing expert network.