Using data and information

The use of healthcare associated infection (HCAI) data and information is essential at every stage of the improvement process. In this section you will find the following:

  • Collecting data
  • Analysing data
  • Presenting data
  • Using information to drive performance management
  • Case study: South East Coast Strategic Health Authority Making Best Use of HCAI Data – Working With The Quality Observatory

Once converted into an appropriate form, information can be used to:

  • Diagnose where the problems are
  • Support a business case for an improvement programme
  • Alter behaviour by presenting a case for change
  • Demonstrate where progress is being made
  • Evaluate and compare performance (league tables, benchmarking).

It is important that a cultural shift takes place so that data is not viewed as simply  numbers and tables that only provide assurance, but as intelligence that can  challenge the status quo. This will then help to continuously improve services for patients.

Organisations need to ensure data is used in the most appropriate ways so that it becomes a valuable source of evidence and intelligence in driving improvement and providing assurance to senior management and the board.

If using data effectively, there should be an emphasis on:

  • Timely and appropriate data collection
  • Analysis to turn it into quality information
  • Effective presentation and
  • Comprehensive dissemination to drive improvement

1. Collecting data
There is a large amount of data collected in health and social care organisations, and at all levels of the whole health economy, about healthcare associated infections (HCAI).

External data on HCAIs and related topics is available on the following websites:

Health Protection Agency

Monthly numbers on MRSA and C. difficile by PCO and acute trusts

National Patient Safety Agency
Various information on HCAIs

Office of National Statistics
Data on MRSA and C. difficile Mortalities

Care Quality Commission
Information on HCAI registration of health and social care organisations

Department of Health
Policy information regarding HCAIs

HCAI data, as well as other data sets, should be collected in centralised systems rather than multiple or departmentally-based systems. This should encourage a holistic approach to data collection and use.

Timely data collection increases data quality by reducing inaccuracies that occur when data is collected too long after the event. In addition to this, good collection practice of high quality data helps embed and sustain a culture of promoting the use of data and information throughout the organisation. This should make everyone realise the importance of using data to evidence decisions that are made.

Where there is a lack of centralisation, there can be disconnects between data being collected/analysed and it being used to drive action to improve services for patients. For example, data is collected and used in isolation at the source of collection, or collected but not analysed, in relation to the rest of that area, or how it could affect other parts of the organisation.

Data Quality
It is essential the whole heath economy has accurate, up-to-date and complete data/information to inform decision-making. Fit for purpose processes and systems that enable you to record and analyse this information regularly, will enable you to focus your resources and time more efficiently. To read more about the importance of data quality, download this document.

Using data and information – Data Quality (PDF, 24.0 KB)

2. Analysing data
Once collected, effective analysis of data helps turn it into evidence in which managers can make decisions. The primary objective when analysing data is to ensure it is accurate and appropriate. Having the data collected in one centralised place will enable robust analysis across different areas/directorates.

The document, Best in Class, describes step-by-step how to produce graphs, comparing the performance of your organisation, with a comparator (region, national, or peer organisations). Download this document to read more.

Using data and information – Analysing data (PDF, 816.1 KB)

3. Presenting data
Competent presentation of data turns numbers into intelligence that can be used constructively, for example, to monitor compliance or identify ‘hotspots’ where problems are occurring.

When using data for reporting purposes, it is important to be clear about the purpose of the report, as well as the audience. Converting data into the right information, and delivering it to the right people at the right time, is essential in effectively using data to drive improvement.

Dashboards are useful tools for reporting on a wide range of indicators and can be useful at a number of levels to a number of audiences. For example, a ward manager might find a dashboard specific to their ward useful to identify problems, whereas at directorate level a directorate-wide dashboard would be more appropriate to provide assurance.

More information and dashboard examples can be found below:

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are established ways of measuring performance across an organisation. Timely review of KPIs against desired outcomes, targets or thresholds provide early warning signals. An example could be measuring the time it takes to isolate a patient on a ward, which could highlight the need to take action. KPIs can be at ward, divisional and directorate level – ultimately feeding into board level reporting. All actions listed on an action plan should be linked to a relevant KPI. These indicators will also support the overall organisational objectives.

The chart below shows how you could illustrate data to identify poor performers. In this case the pink organisation has a higher number of MRSA cases than many of its peers with higher occupied bed days.

Dissemination and use
It is important that information is shared at the right time. It is of little use hearing of a cluster of cases one or two months after it has occurred. The more rapidly management knows about a problem, the more swiftly action can be taken to reduce further risk.

Information can be used at every level of the organisation. At a leadership level, effective information is crucial to aid effective decision-making. Boards need to see relevant, specific and timely information which highlights areas of risk and equips them to add divisional direction to account.

At a ward level, audits such as those included in the High Impact Interventions can be used to monitor compliance with infection control procedures.

If you would like further information about the High Impact Interventions, click here.

4. Using information to drive performance management
Performance management enables organisations to articulate their business strategy, align their business to that strategy, identify their key performance indicators (KPIs) and track progress, delivering the information to decision-makers.

A RAG (Red, Amber, Green) rating can be used as an indication of the level of confidence that an action plan will meet its objectives. This approach can also be applied or adapted to monitor many of the Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) considered important to manage infection prevention and control.

To read more, download, Performance Management in Infection Prevention and Control.

Using data and information – Performance Management in Infection Prevention and Control (PDF, 27.7 KB)

5. Case study: South East Coast Strategic Health Authority Making Best Use of HCAI Data – Working With The Quality Observatory
Readers of this case study will take away an understanding of some of the varied ways that HCAI data can be viewed and analysed to support local decision-making, and the benefits of engaging and working with data and information experts for Infection Prevention and Control (IP&C) Teams.

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