Data analytics in healthcare: A Q&A with Lisa Mumford

We spoke to Lisa Mumford, head of ODT studies, statistics and clinical studies and member of the NHS Blood & Transplant team who won our inaugural Florence Nightingale Award for Excellence in Healthcare Data Analytics.

What do you think good data analytics in the health and care system looks like? 
I believe that good data analytics involves efficient, effective, patient-focused use of routinely collected data, and this is especially true in the health and care system, so that we place a minimal data burden on frontline staff. Any analysis undertaken should prioritise saving and improving lives and should be used as evidence to support policy decisions in the wider health care setting. 

How can the health and care system better utilise the data it has to improve care and services? 
There is a wealth of data in the health and care system which is disparate and difficult to access and link, for example hospital records. Improvements in national IT and easier pathways for linkage of data across the different aspects of health and social care could lead more readily to new service improvements and advances in patient care. 

How have healthcare data analytics been deployed to respond to the pandemic, and what role did your team play in that?  
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some transplant units made the difficult decision to suspend their organ transplant activity. Our team introduced a data collection tool early in the pandemic to enable us to identify transplant recipients, and those on the waiting list for a transplant, who had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. This provided an evidence-based picture of the risk of infection and death for transplant patients and enabled transplant units to make informed decisions about restarting their transplant programmes and to have informed conversations with potential transplant recipients about the comparative risks.  

How do you consider diversity and inclusion in your day to day role?  
Diversity and inclusion are integral to the work that we undertake. The main focus of our work is to ensure equity of access to transplantation for all patients from all backgrounds including, but not limited to; ethnicity, sex, geography, socio-economic status, and age. We monitor this routinely and report on waiting times to transplant, geographical variation in listing and transplant rates, and graft and patient survival following transplantation. If we identify an area of potential inequity, we try to correct it, for example through evidence-based revisions to organ matching and offering policies. 

What value does involving patients and the public add to your work? 
Patient and public engagement offers a unique and valuable insight in the work that we do. Patients in particular bring different perspectives and are very good at driving through change which can lead to improved patient equity and outcomes. We routinely involve lay members and patient representatives in our working groups to ensure we have balanced and creative discussions leading to projects that are relevant and meaningful to our patients and the wider public. 

This year is Florence Nightingale’s bicentenary – how has she inspired you?
Very few people know that Florence Nightingale trained and worked as a statistician as well as a nurse. She has inspired me to use statistics in the health care setting to positively impact on patient care, even though I do not work on the front line. Her use of visual statistics to make changes that saved lives is something that I strive to do with the data that is available on transplantation, making interpretation and evidence for change more accessible for everyone.

Read more about the 2020 winners of the Florence Nightingale Award.

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