I work in data in the NHS and I love it, I have been doing this sort of thing for almost 15 years and believe passionately that a better use of data can help the NHS continue to improve, but we need to understand that data is rarely, if ever, an answer in and of itself – it has a habit of triggering more questions than it answers.

Data in healthcare is usually a representation of something in the real world, it is people and services and buildings and things that are documented about the interactions between those components.

Data can help to identify priorities for change, it can help you to understand whether changes are having the impact you hoped for and it can inform the way that you make changes BUT it cannot, itself, be the endpoint.

Change relies on people.  You have to understand their needs and experiences if you are going to design a solution that has a chance of working.  We are also too fast to condemn ‘failure’ and we need to help to create an environment where there is a common recognition that the first thing you agree to try might not work as well as you had hoped and may need to be refined.

Data can support or challenge some of what you learn and can help you to frame the conversation.  If we are serious about co-production and co-design then we have to make sure that we are informing it well and that everyone involved is sharing the information they have, whether that is information derived from data, individual experiences or something else.  We need trust to make this happen.

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