What a week for Rob O’Neill and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust. Receiving Qlik’s transformation award, against a backdrop of tens of thousands of analytics innovators, is a big deal.
It’s a great pleasure to interview Rob today and find out more about what it means to him and the trust.
I first met Rob when I worked at Qlik, visiting him at his Lancaster site (in the North West UK), to find out more about where the trust was in terms of analytics maturity and his ambitions for the future. It was a great session where we threw a menagerie of ideas and inspiration into the melting pot. It was clear from the first meeting that Rob was forming an awesome vision where analytics would become a driving force that underpinned transformation at the trust. Central to delivering the vision was the concept of an Analytically Powered Command Centre – forming both a physical and virtual operational nerve centre that would bring people and technology together with a frictionless design approach.
The next year saw collaborative development at its best. Rob understands the importance of the business owning and being part of developing analytics and his approach excited and engaged folk across the trust. I remember visiting just after the Command Centre went live and walking down the hospital corridors of Morecambe, towards the room that housed this innovation, when a nurse stopped Rob and thanked him for his work on the Command Centre. The energy and inspiration that emanated during that conversation was phenomenal. Entering the room, my vision was filled with wall-based touch screens – driven by a frictionless design interface – brought the vision to reality. Patient flow had never been so exquisitely executed. Mission critical analytics had landed…
Of course, having listened to Rob’s vision and ambition, I knew this was just the start. An agile and aggressive development cycle resulted in further Command Centre updates that refined and expanded mission critical insight. However, more excitement was to come. Central to Rob’s strategy was the implementation of analytics across the Business Intelligence Curve (have a look at Gartner). Integrating predictive technology allowed a new preventative approach to meet the modern-day challenges that an acute hospital faces. Further, Rob also wanted to bring people into the analytics and allow interaction and professional judgement to be combined with traditional approaches – enter the adoption of the Inphinity suite of products. Covid revealed how much of a mission critical advantage a modern and flexible technology stack was.
The real-time tracking and assessment of Covid 19 results in an acute hospital is vital for safe containment and protection of patients. Traditional processes for obtaining test results, can often be locked in processes and technology that does not support rapid decision making and action. Rob used the Inphinity Suite in real-time to show up-to-the minute test results, where clinicians add context and insight to support the best containment and safety decisions. Alerting can also be included that supports immediate action, minimising patient and staff risk – ultimately saving lives.
Rob clearly articulated to me: “The use of writeback has been pivotal. Allowing our clinical staff to capture information in real-time and augment clinical records has been so important. Without question, it’s a mission critical app that impacts on the safe care of patients”.
More recently, the Inphinity Suite has been used to support the post covid clinical review process. Covid 19 has put extreme pressure on traditional treatment processes. Patients waiting for routine treatment has been growing nationally and globally – presenting a significant long-term health risk. Designed with clinicians in mind, Qlik and the Inphinity Suite is being used to support the management of clinical review processes. Augmenting gaps in traditional EPR workflows, patient lists can be reviewed by the clinician, where additional context and decisions can be added into Qlik to support an agile approach to prioritise and action key patient safety actions.
Rob said: “Being agile, Inphinity forms embedded in Qlik has been really powerful. We would not be able to respond so comprehensively and safely without it.”
So, now back to the here and now, let’s find out more about his award and what’s next!
Thank you for chatting with me today and congratulations on your fantastic award!
Q – How does it feel to be awarded this great accolade?
A – I feel truly honoured that UHMB has been recognised through the Global Transformation Award and it’s fantastic to receive recognition for the work we’ve been immersed in for the past few years – which has been to transform the culture of an organisation so that it’s truly data-driven, and in the context of healthcare the objective was to enable safer and more efficient healthcare delivery, which we unequivocally evidence.
Q – Did you ever think that your work would have such a positive impact on both patient and clinical staff?
A – I’ve always held true to my vision that the global population needs a massive transformation in the way that healthcare is delivered, and citizen health is optimised, through the application of analytics and AI. Without this I foresee a growing chasm in inequity of access, quality of life, clinical outcomes and affordability.
The culture-shift within the organisation, and wider health system, is tangible and this is truly gratifying. A great example is that we’ve just completed a 2-week sprint to design, develop and roll-out a machine-learning driven Qlik Sense app that will be used by clinicians to prioritise elective surgery as part of the covid-19 recovery process. The collective confidence from the multi-disciplinary team (clinical, operational and analytical) is very high – it’s been a hugely successful project that will impact positively on citizen’s lives and I hope gives a glimpse into how data and analytical maturity can enable an organisation to effectively deliver its business.
Q – How important was your vision, ambition and strategy in transforming the trusts use of data?
A – It’s been critical. I believe it’s imperative to articulate the vision of what one’s aiming to achieve (in the case of UHMB that’s using analytics and AI to improve clinical outcomes, deliver efficient clinical pathways and empower citizens in the management of their own wellness and health) and to co-develop a strategy that will take the organisation on the journey to attain the goals that have been set.
Something I think is important, but not talked too much, is the need to knuckle-down and keep focussed on delivery when things aren’t going well – and there will be times when progress feels slow or organisational politics are challenging – and to keep the positive focus that the programme of transformation will lead to results, and importantly culture change.
Q – You frequently talk about the Energise Rocket – what is it? and why is this so important in delivering analytics?
A – Ha, the Energise Rocket! Well, that’s something I know is close to your heart. For me, it’s the human aspect, and about the energy that can be harnessed within a collective of people to deliver success. We’ve talked about strategy and how critical it is, but it can also be something that’s dry and difficult for people to engage with at a meaningful level. I feel, however, that what people can engage with is being part of something that’s fundamentally changing things for the better – and in the case of healthcare that’s likely to be about saving lives and improving outcomes.
From experience I’ve found that a great way to great a culture of energy and success is to square up to the really big and difficult problems and seek to solve them in innovative ways. I think our Qlik Analytical Command Centre is a great example of that, it’s of course a physical space and a software solution but it’s a lot more than that – we’re augmenting real-time decision making through some great value-adding technology such as write-back, alerting and autonomous machine learning but we’re also creating a ‘space’ where humans can harness this technology and be creative. I think that’s an exciting concept – the creativity potential of the human: technology interface.
Q – You have a great collaborative approach both internally and externally – how important is this in the world of implementing analytics?
A- It’s fundamental to me. The Qlik GTA represents the benefits of collaboration and I feel privileged to be part of a community of data, analytics and AI professionals that are so willing to share ideas and innovation across organisation, customer, vendor and geo-political boundaries. Although there are obviously differences between organisational goals across industry verticals and from state to state, there are also significant commonalities that can be aligned into blueprints for success. I’m very grateful for the generosity in time and engagement that I’ve received when talking to health systems around the world, and data and analytics professionals globally – it inspires me and drives me to share my experiences and to aim for excellence in terms of the organisation I work for.
Q – You have created a really good technology stack and combine different technologies to solve tricky business problems – what’s the key to this success?
A – I believe, as a customer, in having the flexibility to choose the technologies that will best enable success. And with the surge towards cloud technology becoming ‘the norm’ we’re seeing the barriers to interoperability and integration rapidly disappear. Every organisation is different and has unique challenges and opportunities and a flexible technology stack can help ensure that the best solutions can be implemented. I’m opposed to vendor lock-in which I feel can hinder creativity and is strategically a bad place for both a vendor and customer.
I think the concept of data-in-motion and active-intelligence encapsulate how the best technologies can be integrated to deliver a fluidity of analytics and AI that can be built around the organisational/customer/user needs. AN empowered business user, or clinician, or police officer shouldn’t need to be aware of the technology that’s enabling them to better perform in their role, they deserve to be supported by the best, integrated technology that delivers the best-possible user experience.
Q – You have been pushing the boundaries using the Inphinity Suite – what impact has it had on the organisation?
A – It’s been huge, when we first engaged with the Inphinity Team we knew that we’d met a group of people who shared our passion for innovation and solving real-life business problems through data and analytics.
Use of the Inphinity suite has enabled a real cultural shift where analytics are really being used within clinical workflow at UHMB. This is significant – we’ve got clinical staff interacting with Qlik apps and recording data that’s captured live within apps and is then reutilised in real-time to enable them to make better and safer decisions. Whether it’s risk assessing patient record completeness, triaging patients who are waiting for an appointment, identifying bed availability or managing workforce disciplinary cases we’ve got clinical and operational staff using Qlik Sense as part of their roles on a daily basis and that’s made a significant contribution to the culture shift I’ve mentioned. The organisation continues to mature in terms of its data literacy and the use of the Inphinity suite has been a key contributor to this journey.
Q – You are not one to rest for a second – what’s next on the strategy?
A – There’s so much opportunity to impact! In the near future the focus is fully on enabling some really big transformational changes within UHMB and the wider health system. There are some big change programmes happening and we’ve got our team tightly integrated within them. The real opportunity is around the use of AI to underpin fundamental changes to how patients care is managed and how services are delivered – that’s exciting and we’ve already evidenced that we can bring together multi-disciplinary stakeholders to enact change very quickly and with impact.
I’m also really interested in the wider impact agenda, so identifying opportunities to further collaborate globally and build/implement blueprints for data-driven transformation is a top priority.
Thanks for chatting today Rob, and congratulations again on your award. Looking forward to hearing about the next game changing innovation.
- Interview Blog with Rob O’Neill - 14. May 2021
- How process intelligence holds the key to excellence - 18. March 2021
- Inphinity Healthcare: Mission Critical Tools to Improve Patient Outcomes, Reduce Risk and Minimise Cost - 16. October 2020