OpenDataSavesLives session on 28 January 2021

Our second #OpenDataSavesLives session of the year focused on the role of the analyst during COVID-19 and with 61 participants, our #OpenDataSavesLives community continues to grow from strength to strength.

Joining us were Rony Arafin, Chief Operating Officer, AphA, who took us through AphA’s  journey to promote analytics as a profession; Ellen Coughlan, Programme Manager, The Health Foundation outlined The Health Foundation’s approach to building a community of practice and Fraser Battye, Principal Consultant, The Strategy Unit shared his perspective on analytical life during the pandemic.

You can watch the session here.

Key points from the live chat:

Rony Arafin, Chief Operating Officer, AphA - AphA’s journey to promote Analytics as a profession

The key point that Rony made is that analytics does not have the same professional status as, for example, accountancy, medicine and law. Part of the role of AphA is to ensure that becoming an analyst is a career choice and this is long overdue.  "More damage can be done by an unskilled person working on a spreadsheet than can an unskilled person working with a scalpel."

Marc asked Rony “How do analysts distinguish themselves from the IT crowd?” Rony said that it is key to bring people together, raise the analyst profile and the profession; share work. There should be a professional registration for analysts. Martin Pitt asked Rony whether he thought one of AphA’s roles is to redefine the meaning of health analysis and the misconception people have of this. Rony agreed and said “AphA continues to have this very discussion and tries to bring clarity through understanding skills and experience, and what value we are adding to the Health and Care system.” Martin feels that there is the need for a much broader understanding of the role of the analyst which encompasses business intelligence, policy making, comms etc. Fraser added that leadership is key and that The Strategy Unit’s first cohort on its 'leadership for analysts' programme took place earlier this week, and it is really exciting to see what they will do.

You can see Rony's presentation.

Ellen Coughlan, Programme Manager, The Health Foundation - building a community of practice

Mark Dodd said that it would be interesting to know how data ethics fits in with the idea of leveraging data as there are always tensions between these. AphA has started a group to look at data ethics. If you’re interested, email

Marc said one of the hopes out of COVID is that technology will create new capacity. In other words, monitoring people at home rather than in a care home using pulse oximetry. There are not enough careers/nursers/doctors. How is The Health Foundation analysing this opportunity and beginning to size it?

Fraser said he’d love to see The Health Foundation do something to define out / promote / shine lights [and plaudits] on analytically-minded leaders. We need more of them - and far fewer [very small p] politicians. James asked if there are role models that could be promoted and if there are leaders who do this well? Paul Connell @ODI - Leeds said “Use the web 😊  find friends 😊 make a massive difference 😊.” Martin Pitt added “…and engage more effectively with the clinical community.”

Joss Sessions asked whether The Health Foundation has been exploring how information value supply chains can be attributed to the people in the community practise by using data to recognise different compassion metrics? Ellen replied “Some of the work we're funding in the social care analytics programme is looking to develop new metrics that reflect experience and wellbeing for different groups of people accessing care.”

Ellen is currently working on defining the Chief Analytical Officer job description and James Jarvis said that it would be good to see what the development path to this is. Marc will share his CAO job description with James. Paul commented “Be #RadicallyOpen use the web, share early, share often. Also be helpful and friendly 😊.”

You can see Ellen's presentation.

Fraser Battye, Principal Consultant, The Strategy Unit – my perspective on analytical life during the pandemic

Most of what Fraser covered, along with lots of the analytical work which The Strategy Unit has published recently, can be found in the following blogs:

Marc asked Fraser “What are the things that you would like to do that are just beyond your level of appetite for risk?” Fraser said “It’s not really The Strategy Unit’s tone. Not everything is perfect. Keep doing good stuff, making the case and justify it, leading by example.”

You can see Fraser's presentation here.

He asked Paul what people thought about FutureNHS? Paul said “My big problem with Future NHS is that it isn't on the web, is not searchable and is a walled garden - not #RadicallyOpen - I guess the main point is that we can do better 😊.”

Others like FutureNHS – they wouldn’t have found out about The Strategy Unit or #OpenDataSavesLives without it and they find the content useful.

For more information on care homes, contact, or Beautiful Information is developing a digital maturity index for care homes, which we’ll publish and share on soon.