Meet the experts: Our expertise in linking primary and secondary care data is helping to create system-wide change

With an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master's in psychological research methods, Sarah Pemberton knew she wanted to make a difference in the healthcare sector. She has worked for Dr Foster for six years and is now at the forefront of analysing integrated care, joining up system-wide data to help paint a picture of population health.

Sarah Pemberton, lead research analyst

Access to rich primary care data is building a system-wide picture

As one of three lead research analysts, I specialise in supporting NHS organisations with population health and system-wide analysis. This includes getting access to and linking data from different parts of the health system. For instance, I have experience linking primary and secondary care data, which is important in understanding patient pathways and their interactions with services.

We provide advanced analytics that allows organisations to have a greater understanding of their population and gain useful insights around specific cohorts in their region. These insights help organisations implement services in the most effective way to support patients at home, or within their community rather than being admitted to hospital. When you know how patients are interacting with services, you can then understand how changes can improve these services. Our team not only helps organisations understand where changes can be made – we can also track their progress to review if interventions are working.

Bringing statistics expertise to my role at Dr Foster

Statistics was a major focus of both my undergraduate and master’s degrees, so a job working with data and analytics was a natural step. I started out working in the commercial analytics department of a health insurance firm on its employee assistance programme before joining Dr Foster as a support and insight executive. This was a customer-facing role where I liaised with customers and tech teams, helping to solve any issues.

I’ve worked within the analytics team for about four years now and have experience analysing a range of complex datasets. As a team our aim is to provide interesting insight that is easy to interpret. This means working with organisations to fully understand their requirements and once the work has been delivered supporting them with any further questions they may have. The more they understand their data, the more they can improve their services.

An exciting future for healthcare

Understanding data is important in driving meaningful digital transformation and linking data across the system will allow for even greater insight. Machine learning techniques and artificial intelligence are now frequently being discussed and invested in across the sector, so it’s an exciting time to be involved.