Meet the experts: How Andrew Branch uses data and evidence to drive meaningful change in the NHS

Andrew Branch joined the Dr Foster team in 2019 as a healthcare operations and information specialist. He believes strongly in using evidence to lead change and has several years’ experience using data to improve performance within the NHS, which he draws on to inform his work with Dr Foster. Andrew is currently coming to the end of a master’s degree in data science from the University of Edinburgh.

15 Jul 2020 | 2 min read

Andrew Branch, Head of Projects

Developing the skills to drive evidence-based improvements

Following a degree in psychology at the University of East London, I moved to Cumbria and held several temporary positions at councils and in the nuclear industry. The main focus of these roles was on analytics and using evidence to drive change, putting together bids by pulling together large datasets and finding key information.

A job in digital radiology came up in a local NHS hospital implementing the PACS, I used data sets to show how the system was being used from a performance perspective. The hospital offered me a job on the operational management team, responsible for delivering the Referral to Treatment 18-week target. I found the only way to achieve what was needed was to combine all available data to provide clinicians with the evidence necessary to improve performance.

NHS experience crucial to delivering effective solutions

I spent four years in total in the NHS, before starting at a company specializing in healthcare analytics where I stayed for four and a half years. My strength is in identifying where a team may be struggling and devising a deliverable solution through collaborative working. Having worked in the NHS, I understand the lexicon and what should be happening, and can communicate effectively with both clinical and administrative staff at all levels of an organisation. When this is combined with my broad understanding of data, I ensure we can deliver what is needed.

For example, Royal Brompton Hospital has access to significantly skilled analysts, who could surface the data, so we worked together to design a dashboard that both clinicians and management could use.

Turning data and information into action

I ensure what Dr Foster does is understandable and actionable – that our analyses can drive meaningful change. The InFocus tool, for example, provides an overview that allows us to uncover where the problems are and suggest what improvements need to be made.

With Covid-19, we are using data analysis to determine what the impact of the virus will be on elective care in the coming months and years, so that trusts can cater capacity to demand. There will be a huge deficit in this area and many patients sitting on waiting lists. If we can understand the extent of the problem now, we can put plans in place to mitigate.