It was Spring of 2020 and time to go on my first rotational placement of the STP; the informatics team of a private healthcare company. Throughout my career I have worked in the public sector, so this placement was a great chance to gain an insight into the corporate world of the private sector.
Before the pandemic hit
The first thing I noticed was the free tea and coffee and how smartly everyone was dressed (prompting me to divert to Oxford Street on the way home to up my work outfit game). Once I started, I realised things were not so dissimilar to the NHS, and that private healthcare faces many of the same issues as the NHS, such as integrating data systems. The department I was based in worked with patient data, tracking patient satisfaction and quality of care at their hospitals. This gave me a great opportunity to brush up on my data analysis skills and provided real-life experience of the uses of data for identifying shortcomings and ultimately improving patient care.
I was just getting into my stride, getting to know the people and systems in use, when the world was forced into isolation, and I swapped my fancy new work outfits, shiny office and free tea with PJs, my bedroom and whatever was left at the back of my cupboard. Like everybody else, I slowly got used to my new routine of working from home and becoming a pro at zoom.
Analysing Covid-19 data
One of the team’s roles was investigating the Covid-19 situation at their hospitals, and then sending data nationally to help the Government understand the national situation. Sitting in on meetings, I discovered how a simple statistic, for example how many patients currently have Covid-19 in a hospital, is not as easy to obtain as you may think; I was unaware of the work that goes in to transforming raw data into useful and accurate data. I also saw the hurdles facing a well-staffed and equipped private healthcare company, so could only imagine some of the difficulties facing large NHS Trusts under tremendous amounts of pressure.
It was now my turn to help analyse the data, and find some interesting trends. As a data and numbers fan, I enjoyed the opportunity to identify meaningful information from these huge data sets. For example, analysing the length of time Covid-19 positive individuals spent in hospital before being discharged, and the likelihood of Covid-19 patients being admitted to the ICU. It was great to be able to do my bit, however small, to contribute to such an important effort during the pandemic, and it allowed me to learn much more about the world of private healthcare and health data analysis.