The East Midlands Head and Neck Cancer Network (EMHNCN) was formed to enable six NHS provider trusts to take a single region-wide response to demand and capacity pressures being experienced within the Head and Neck Cancer pathway.
With extensive experience of collecting, analysing and using data to understand and improve patient pathways, NHS Arden & GEM was engaged to work collaboratively with EMHNCN to design and implement a region-wide dashboard and set of associated tools.
Participating trusts now have a holistic view of pressures across the whole Head and Neck Cancer pathway which is supporting them in improving understanding, communication and operational performance.
Head and Neck Cancer services within the East Midlands had been experiencing significant sustainability challenges, which were compounded by a lack of region-wide demand and capacity data to inform pathway and service redesign and improvement.
Key challenges included:
- Workforce constraints alongside rising demand which required an agile response to providing mutual aid across the six regional acute providers
- Tailoring this response to a variety of needs, for example, clinical support to manage 2WW referrals or diverting major surgical cases between providers
- The need for appropriate and standardised clinical coding across the whole network to better understand each trust’s financial position and accurately evidence the type of work being undertaken by each provider
- No holistic view of current regional workforce capacity available to support mutual aid and capacity planning across trusts
- Finally, waiting list data was often not visible or out of date, impacting operational effectiveness and equity of care.
NHS Arden & GEM worked collaboratively, as part of the EMHNCN team, to establish a region-wide network dashboard for the Head and Neck Cancer pathway. Arden & GEM bought the following experience and expertise to the team:
- Collecting and manipulating NHS data flows
- Designing and hosting visually engaging dashboards in a range of potential technologies to suit the user
- Understanding of NHS pathways and performance standards
- Providing a service that responds to NHS needs in an agile manner.
The new dashboard brings together data from each of the six providers in the network, providing a holistic view of the key performance pressures being faced across the whole pathway.
Ensuring timely, standardised data
In response to operational teams at EMHNCN highlighting a key requirement for the information to be timely, Arden & GEM’s data experts established a weekly automated data capture process resulting in an up-to-date picture, with no more than a 7 day time-lag, always being available.
Building relationships and purpose
Alongside developing the dashboard, Arden & GEM chaired a monthly data group that brought together key stakeholders from each of the network’s provider organisations. Working collaboratively in this manner not only ensured that the dashboard met their collective needs but also enabled agreement to standardise key requirements, such as consistent definitions for data being measured.
This group was critical in building relationships and a collaborative purpose among all network participants. Joint decision making has also resulted in trust and mutual ownership in the outputs of the dashboard that now provides a single and consistent view of pathway performance and informs the most effective and efficient response that can be taken collaboratively across the network.
Adding further value
As the programme of work progressed, the team identified and implemented additional areas of support to add further value to the Head and Neck Cancer pathway across the region. This included establishing closer working links with a previously separate clinical coding task and finish group, and providing ad hoc analysis on region-wide questions such as the benefits of implementation of robotic surgery.
Through close and collaborative working with Arden & GEM, EMHNCN now has:
- A dedicated Business Intelligence (BI) service for an under-pressure pathway that enables a joined-up response to region-wide demands as they arise
- A shared understanding of current pressures in the Head and Neck Cancer pathway across the network, allowing for mutual aid through diverting support to areas of greatest need
- Improved data quality and more accurate financial compensation for work delivered
- A collaborative forum for data and BI colleagues to come together and share expertise while supporting region-wide transformation
- Greater engagement from operational and clinical colleagues with data.
"Since the analysts from Arden & GEM have joined our team, I genuinely feel we are moving at a great pace. The dashboard is working really well and is already helping us to improve communication between providers.
The coding data bought to our network board meeting today was outstanding in terms of the magnitude of depth and this meant that everyone was really engaged. Once upon a time the data story felt much further behind and a difficult discussion to have. Now it becomes more and more exciting and interesting at each board meeting.
This is all down to Arden & GEM’s expertise in articulating the importance of data as well as how key messages are used to tell a story that lands with everyone. I am so grateful to have them on board with this project and I really do anticipate some amazing results ahead."
Michelle Graham, East Midlands Head and Neck Cancer Network Manager
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