Senior leaders in NHS organisations and systems have a key focus on continuously improving the quality of care and outcomes for patients and improving the health of local communities. This focus means that you will want to understand elements around how you can deliver continuous improvement, source and analyse data, drawing intelligence from a wide range of sources to understand your own organisations performance and to find others you can learn from to improve even further. In addition to these resources the Setting strategy and long-term transformation page contains useful signposting.
In the Digital Technology section you will find links to key organisations and resources to support you in working at Board level and using technology to support transformational change.
Many organisations have been using improvement science methodologies to drive continuous improvement. Drawing on different data sources, staff and patient feedback, and key performance indicators to target areas to deliver the goals of the organisation or function, enables leaders to identify opportunities, increasingly across systems and pathways to unlock even greater benefits for patients and clients.
Understanding what data is telling us about performance and where we can concentrate our improvement focus is essential for delivering high quality sustainable outcomes. The tools on the Using data for improvement page will support you in understanding data and using it for decision making.
- Avoid echo chambers – find somebody who will give you constructive feedback and advice to help you enrich what you are doing and so your actions are relate to a wider audience.
- Don’t rely on one person for advice or guidance – build your networks early on, so you can draw on a variety of experience and knowledge from subject matter experts to help you solve your problem. You may find this book chapter useful ‘The Loneliness Challenge – How to develop broader networks’ from the book ‘The 18 Challenges of Leadership: A practical, structured way to develop your leadership talent‘, by Trevor Waldock.
- When you look at a piece of analysis ask yourself : ‘What does this tell me and what action will I take as a result.’ If you can’t answer these two questions, the analysis isn’t helping. Send it back and ask for something better.
- Make sure that claims of data significance are backed up by robust analysis. Using a Statistical Process Control (SPC) which plots data over time enables you to see variation and use intelligence to understand data changes. Was that really a significant improvement? The chart will prove if it is. There will be analysts in your organisation who can present data in this format for you.
- Don’t assume that the stories behind the data are always true. Was poor performance in A&E really due to increased activity? Very often it is not – many more factors are at play that should be considered.