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From ward to board - how an NHS Trust is using Yellowfin for data storytelling

Derek du Preez Profile picture for user ddpreez October 26, 2021
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is using Yellowfin for everything from its board papers to providing clinicians and patients data on safety and quality.

Medic using healthcare technology on tablet © metamorworks - shutterstock
(© metamorworks - shutterstock)

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is moving away from its use of Excel for business intelligence and is adopting a more sophisticated approach to sharing data, through its use of Yellowfin. 

The NHS Trust, which serves around 400,000 people in Hartlepool, Stockton and County Durham, is using Yellowfin to move towards what it terms ‘data storytelling' - effectively showcasing data all the way from the board level, down to the wards. It's ambition is to present data in a meaningful way to improve the running of the organization, as well as the experience of staff and patients. 

Keith Wheldon, Business Intelligence Manager at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said that after years of using Excel in an attempt to get information out to the right people, it was time to adopt a "more intelligent solution". He said: 

We're in the early years of transitioning to Yellowfin and we've started to really get the dashboards out there to the right audience, detailing all the information that we need to. In the early days it was just doing dashboards and learning what Yellowfin can do, tailoring it to the needs of the people that need to see them.

But when Yellowfin 9.0 came out, we started to use the Canvas features more, which gave us a bit more fluidity with the information, in terms of different graphical designs, tailoring it to different audiences even further, and giving it up to people who weren't just data driven, but needed to see the information right there in front of them. 

BI at the board level 

The Trust's use of Yellowfin has become more sophisticated in recent months, as it has adopted automated features that streamline the creation of board papers. Wheldon explained that the key advantage is not only being able to reduce the time taken to create the board papers, but also improve the storytelling around the data being presented. He said: 

We've then moved on a bit further since then, utilizing other features of Yellowfin, such as presenting stories. We moved our board papers, which were Word and Excel based, into Yellowfin. 

It was a very manual process, updating an Excel dashboard. A few members of the team would do that. It would take quite a while, there were glitches within the Excel calculations for unknown reasons, and there was just a lot of manual intervention.

The amount of data that we have to report on and pull through, it was getting really cumbersome. So the next step was, what can Yellowfin do? I don't think Yellowfin had Present in mind for what we've used it for, but we've certainly made good use of it. And it has saved so much time within the department. By including the narrative alongside the data, we just need to update some of the data flows, with quite a fair few of them already automated, and we just put the narrative in there and it's done. So it's a lot quicker and simpler for us to do - and has saved time.

Now, the vast majority of it updates when the data does and all we do is just tweak the narrative.

Keeping the ward informed

Yellowfin isn't just being used to keep the board informed, however. The Trust is also using the platform to get meaningful, easy to access information into the hands of clinicians and patients at the ward level. 

For instance, Wheldon and his team are using Yellowfin Present to highlight information on TVs across the wards, showing live slide desks that detail information on safety and quality. He said: 

We are really trying to push the boundaries of Yellowfin. Over the last three years I'd say we've really driven business intelligence forward, away from just Excel, and are getting people the reports that they need to see. We're giving them information that they've never even thought of before, presented in a multitude of different ways. 

Wheldon added that the motto for his department is that "numbers are no longer just numbers, they are people". The key aim behind this is that business intelligence should be used to tell stories, which can keep people informed but also drive meaningful change. He said: 

We're trying to get the dashboards to tell those stories, rather than just being a table full of numbers, it's trying to get the meaning across that there's a patient behind that number. And what can we do to improve that process? 

We have moved our patient tracking list into Yellowfin as well, which are utilized in live meetings during the week. It's a much smoother, cleaner way of tracking the patient. And what we can do is make managerial decisions then and there within the platform. 

We've got a safety and quality dashboard, which pulls together complaints,  compliments, friends and family information. We pulled through the incident information as well, so it's all there in one platform. 

We run weekly huddles off of that data, so our senior clinical matrons and our senior nursing staff look at that information on a weekly basis, which kind of pushes the accountability back onto the senior clinical matrons, so they can come up and say ‘yes, we know about X, Y and Z'. It's a lot quicker, smoother, compared to receiving monthly reports. We use the data in a live format each week, each day. 

The Trust is using Yellowfin to tailor the dashboards to audiences that aren't necessarily data savvy, such as nurses and patients, with the aim being that when they open a dashboard, they understand exactly what's happening. Wheldon said: 

We're making sure that our data goes from ward level, so patients can see it, all the way up to the board level. The information comes into Yellowfin and just splits off in different directions. They'll see how many falls, incidents, medication errors, all that kind of information, as well as any campaigns the Trust is running. 

We're trying to utilize the platform the best we can. There's always things that we want to do, there's always things that we're pushing more for from Yellowfin, but we are trying to take it forward so that it brings the Trust to the forefront of business intelligence. 

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