The Rise of the Data-Driven Command Centre

An early Command Centre, the War Room at Stevns Fortress used in Denmark during the Cold War, featured little in the way of the sophistication we imagine today for such facilities. Most people associate a modern Command Centre with war, a major incident or NASA; however, it has a multitude of applications across many organizations throughout the world. What is common — even crucial — to all of them is that, conceptually, a command centre is a source of leadership to ensure that service is maintained. A Command Centre is not just a glorified information centre but a hub of direction and strategy.

It’s all about data-driven leadership

We may not think about healthcare when we first consider Command Centres. However, in public sector healthcare, there have been significant challenges in maintaining and improving service delivery. Complex demand and risk has risen while resource capacity has shrunk – take a look at the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom, oftentimes described as an overtaxed, overextended system, unable to service its population’s needs.

Moreover, there has also been a continued push for transparency around delivery, heighted accountability and a focus on public satisfaction. Working at the sharp end of public sector healthcare requires a mindset of steel: “What have I missed today?”, “What might go wrong?” These are all thoughts that our caring and dedicated NHS professionals take to bed every day. And, it’s easy to miss stuff; high demand contends with a blizzard of information from multiple data sources difficult to discern, understand and turn into data-driven, actionable insights.

At a strategic level, how do your chief operating officers, directorate heads, managers and supervisors assure delivery and mitigate inherent risks associated with a high-demand operational arena? It can often be a difficult and time-consuming process. Significant hearsay forms part of the decision making — things get lost in the haze of anecdote and conjecture and mistakes inevitably occur.

Stuart Hosking-Durn, Head of Resilience and Patient Flow at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), understands the acute issues very well, recognizing that making the best medical decisions requires having the best data available whenever, wherever and to whomever it’s needed.

“Bringing it all together takes time — and that is something that you don’t always have, particularly when the hospitals are running very hot,” Hosking-Durn observes.

“[Traditionally,] it was very much a manual process with people running around with pieces of paper. This meant that the data we were using could be two to three hours old. We needed to be able to see the state of the hospitals at a moment’s notice if we were to respond faster and ensure patient safety.”

When near real-time data and analytics is integrated into the heart and rhythm of organisations, it provides a new opportunity to create a Command Centre that brings both technology and people together. Making the complex simple is a strategic aim, through which the most important insight to drive the business is brought into a location driven through analytics on multiple touch screens. Hence, the emergence of the Command Centre.

UHMBT’s data-driven Command Centre

The picture below shows how UHMBT has created a modern Command Centre to assure and improve patient flow through hospitals.

This is a good example of a Command Centre that has been developed within three months, quickly adding significant benefits back to the business, with an architecture that is agile and scalable to expand the Command Centre into further critical business areas. It is relatively inexpensive, too.

Besides the obvious assurance and delivery benefits, the Command Centre also provides a great opportunity to transform culture. It makes data engaging and shines a light on critical business areas from an evidenced-based perspective. Operational people love it because it allows a line of sight, from the strategic to the tactical, that penetrates from board to ward. It breaks down cultural, demand, capacity and capability barriers, answering the following questions and more:

  • How productive are we?
  • Is the work distributed fairly?
  • How proactive are we?
  • Can we prevent future issues?
  • Can we move resources around to high-demand areas?
  • Where do we need to escalate issues?

Rob O’Neill from UHMBT, who leads their analytical strategy, says: “Data Saves Lives — a multi-stakeholder initiative spearheaded by the European Health Data & Evidence Network — encapsulates our mission to deliver analytics to enable better decisions at the point of care. We’re focused on delivering analytical solutions to enable clinical and operational staff to make the right decisions in real time.”

O’Neill’s remark clearly illustrates that how data-driven leadership should be treated as a strategic aim within public sector healthcare – and that doing so can save lives.

UHMBT’s data journey and accomplishments are well captured in a YouTube video and media coverage and is inspiring others to learn and collaborate, too. Jenni Woods, Information Lead for Health & Business Intelligence at NHS Tayside, has quickly replicated the UHMBT solution and is powering ahead with data-led transformation.

The wider assurance & analytics framework

So, how does the Command Centre fit into the wider assurance and analytics framework?

The above diagram shows how analytics can be built into an assurance framework, from the development of a strategic plan to its delivery and implementation by front-line healthcare providers.

In this increasingly complex and challenging environment, lines of defence, well integrated into the point of care team, provide assurance to support a culture of continuous improvement. In fact, many forward-thinking organisations are embedding their improvement teams within the Command Centre and truly working collaboratively with operational colleagues and executives. This positive feedback loop promotes innovation, placing data at the vanguard of organisational transformation.

At Qlik, we have a mantra, which underscores both data and its power to transform: “Where data leads, transformation follows.” Those implementing a data-driven Command Centre approach are providing a blueprint for us all to learn from. If you want to find out how a Command Centre can transform your organisation, read more about our suite of products.

Our own @datanostic_uk discusses how modern #data-driven #commandcenters are helping elevate data & #analytics use in #healthcare to improve teams, transform care and assess critical business areas. Read his latest blog post.


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