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NHS England sets analytics priorities for ICSs

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England’s new integrated care systems (ICSs) have been urged to appoint chief data analysts or equivalents and take advantage of secure data environments and a national federated data architecture.

NHS England has outlined the need for the measures in a new guidance document on building an ICS intelligence function, published last week.

The guidance and an accompanying toolkit – available through FutureNHS – have been produced with input from ICSs and to give them a framework for developing their use of data and analytics.

It describes an intelligence function as a system-wide, multi-disciplinary collaboration of intelligence professionals, with representation from analytical leaders and key teams across the whole ICS. This provides a way of co-ordinating analytical skills to support the needs of the system.

The document sets two main priorities for ICSs this year: one to appoint a chief analyst or equivalent to lead the function, with clear reporting arrangements to the integrated care board; the other to continue to put in place cross-system information governance arrangements, particularly between primary and secondary care and local government.


It also highlights the importance of a number of national enablers, including secure data environments for research and analysis, for which NHS England set out guidelines last year, and the federated data architecture and common platform. The organisation provided basic details of the latter in a procurement notice last year, and the new document says more information will be made public in the coming months.

Other key measures will be the professionalisation of data and analytics, for which NHS England is planning to develop a relevant competency framework, the creation of a clear governance structure with links to the integrated care board, and obtaining support from regional and national learning networks.

Writing in the document’s foreword, NHS England’s director of system information Matt Neligan and chief data and analytics officer Ming Tang say: “Data and analytics should not just drive smarter planning, care co-ordination and performance management at the overall ICS level, but should also be supporting staff to deliver transformation on the front line.

“We have asked systems to appoint a chief analyst, or an equivalent executive leader, whose role will be to realise this vision for the widespread use of data, analytics and insight – but in order to achieve real change it is just as important that all leaders across each ICS commit to the routine use of evidence as a core principle within health and care.”

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