Data Analyst Exchange Program Aims To Share Data Management And Analysis Lessons Learned From Across The Globe
At the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO), we believe encouraging collaboration between agencies within and outside of HHS can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our shared efforts. Using data to make informed, evidence-based policy decisions about health and human services is an important function of the Department. However, it is challenging to collaborate and share health and human service data across agencies due to siloed systems, the inability to combine and link de-identified data, and complex data sharing agreements. Other countries face similar and unique challenges and opportunities to sharing and using health and human service data.
"We started The Data Analyst Exchange Program to promote collaboration, address shared challenges, and share best practices between expert analysts in the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK)," said HHS Chief Technology Officer, Bruce Greenstein. "Learning from other countries will help us liberate siloed data systems, collaborate across agencies, and better understand how to use the data gathered to improve the health of the US and the UK." The program launched with a week-long onsite visit from six analysts and two executives from NHS Digital, the national information and technology partner to the health and social care system of the UK.
The visiting team included:
- Tom Denwood: Executive Director of Data, Insights and Statistics, NHS Digital
- Lisa Franklin: Director of Information and Technology, Southern Health Foundation Trust
- Simone Chung: Principal Information Analyst, NHS Digital
- Chris Dew: Information Analysis Lead Manager, NHS Digital
- Wilma Harvey-Reid: Senior Information Analyst, NHS Digital
- Emily Michelmore: Graduate Analyst, NHS Digital
- Thomas Poupart: Principal Information Analyst, NHS Digital
- Helen Richards: Principal Information Analyst, NHS Digital
The delegation from the UK attended meetings with leaders and analysts from agencies across HHS, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, and the National Center for Health Statistics. The aim of the meetings was to to share challenges, lessons learned, and best practices between efforts in the US and the UK to monitor and promote health. Specifically, this inaugural visit focused on efforts by the US and UK to address the opioid crisis and control antimicrobial resistance.
One week wasn't enough to solve the enormous issues of the opioid crisis and antimicrobial resistance control, but the team of analysts made progress on brainstorming solutions to support these efforts. Using data from the HHS Opioid Symposium & Code-a-Thon, the UK data analysts made recommendations to build opioid overdose risk stratification tools, which could be integrated as decision-support modules in electronic health records, or used at the population-level to identify at-risk patient cohorts. Additionally, the team recommended mapping disease pathways for opioid overdose, making a directory of opioid addiction services publicly available for at-risk individuals, and creating new services that focus on all elements of a person's life - health, home, purpose, and community - tailored to individuals at-risk of opioid overdose. To address antimicrobial resistance monitoring and control, the UK data analysts recommended investigating real-time patient tracking tools using patient identification bracelets, and monitoring of prescribed medications using a medication optimization dashboard, which can allow organizations to understand variations in local practice and provoke discussions about the appropriateness of local care.
The analysts also identified other opportunities for comparison and collaboration. Both governments in the US and the UK have challenges sharing data, combining data, and collaborating across agencies, due to complex data sharing agreements and data privacy restrictions. Analysts from the US and the UK exchanged local data sharing agreements to start strategizing ways to mitigate the complexity of data sharing and collaboration across agencies in the US and abroad.
Reflecting on the visit Tom Denwood, Executive Director of Data, Insights and Statistics, at NHS Digital said, "This was a great week exchanging information and ideas with US colleagues. This inaugural Data Analyst Exchange visit has been a great opportunity to contribute, and innovate, and ultimately enable analysts in both countries to help move each data business forward to meet the needs of the citizens we both serve".
Continuing and expanding international collaboration will improve our ability to maintain and improve the health of our populations. A group of US and UK analysts will start meeting regularly in a Data Analyst Exchange International Working group to continue to collaborate and share best practices. This group will start by producing a final report of recommendations and next steps from the Data Analyst Exchange visit.