The healthcare industry reporting produces 30% of the world’s data . That’s an astronomical amount, and it’s only set to rise.
Over 100,000 patients participated in a trial during the COVID-19 pandemic. And an analysis of this trial data identified dexamethasone as a life-saving treatment, ultimately saving over 1 million lives globally.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to have the right data talent working within our healthcare organisations to be able to interpret this ever growing amount of potentially life-saving data.
Data analysis apprenticeships play a crucial role in revolutionising healthcare. Apprenticeships bridge the gap between traditional medical practices and advanced data-driven insights, allowing us to continually improve patient care.
The role of data analysts in healthcare
Healthcare is arguably the most important industry where data analysis is making advances.
By integrating data analysis apprenticeships into healthcare, the industry gains agile and adept professionals who can harness data's potential. With the right upskilling, teams can drive evidence-based decisions, personalised medicine, and transformative service improvements. These advancements will ultimately contribute to a more efficient, informed, and patient-centric healthcare ecosystem.
Below are some of the ways an upskilled data analyst can contribute to their healthcare organisation and a more patient-focussed healthcare system.
1. Data collection and extraction - Data analysts gather and extract data from various sources, including electronic health records (EHRs), medical devices, and administrative systems.
At John Hopkins Medicine they extract patient data from EHRs which has helped them develop an AI system that detects Sepsis during it’s early stages.
2. Data cleaning and preparation - They clean, organise, and preprocess raw data to ensure accuracy and consistency, addressing missing values and outliers.
3. Data analysis - Part of a data analyst's role will also be to apply statistical techniques and machine learning algorithms to analyse medical data, identifying patterns, correlations, and trends.
4. Predictive modelling - They develop predictive models to forecast disease outbreaks, patient readmissions, and treatment responses, aiding in proactive healthcare interventions.
David Howell is a Joint Director for Strategic Insight and Analytics at Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership. The Surrey healthcare system sees about 10,000 emergency readmissions each year. Of these readmissions, only 15% are seen to be non-preventable cases.
David applied his learnings from the L7 AI & Data Science apprenticeship to build a machine learning model that reliably predicts and flags 70-80% of readmissions of patients. Being able to predict and prevent these readmissions means saving valuable NHS resources.
5. Diagnostic support - They will assist in medical image analysis, aiding radiologists in identifying anomalies in X-rays, MRIs, and other scans through image processing and computer vision.
6. Clinical trials and research - Analysts will collaborate with researchers to design and analyse clinical trials, evaluating the efficacy and safety of new treatments and medications.
7. Patient outcomes improvement - They will analyse patient data to uncover insights that guide personalised treatment plans, enhancing patient outcomes and quality of care.
8. Operational efficiency - Data analysts support in optimising hospital operations by analysing data related to resource utilisation, patient flow, and staff allocation, leading to improved efficiency.
In 2021, Paul Knox joined our Level 3 NHS Data Citizen programme. Because of the upskilling Paul received in both Excel and dashboarding, he has been able to save 182 hours per year in reporting time. And has also been able to support the healthcare analytics team in producing reporting.
9. Healthcare decision support - They will provide evidence-based insights to healthcare professionals, enabling informed decisions for treatment strategies and patient management.
10. Data visualisation and communication - Healthcare data analysts create clear and meaningful visualisations to communicate complex healthcare data to non-technical stakeholders, facilitating informed decision-making.
11. Data privacy and security - Throughout their role data analysts will ensure compliance with data privacy regulations, implementing protocols to safeguard sensitive patient information.
12. Continuous learning and innovation - They will stay updated with advancements in data analysis techniques and healthcare technologies, fostering innovation in healthcare practices.
13. Ethical considerations - They will address ethical challenges related to data handling, ensuring patient confidentiality and maintaining ethical standards in research and analysis.
14. Collaboration - Data analysts will continuously work closely with healthcare professionals, administrators, and IT teams to integrate data-driven insights into clinical workflows and operational processes.
15. Quality improvement - Lastly, they will contribute to ongoing quality improvement initiatives by analysing performance metrics, patient feedback, and outcome measures.
The benefits of data analyst apprenticeships in healthcare
You need the right data team in order to extract valuable insights from the vast amount of data accessible to healthcare professionals. However, it can be hard to know how to source this talent and where to find the right data experts for your team.
Data analyst apprenticeships allow you to upskill your existing team members without having to source externally. This means having data experts in your team that are already familiar with your organisation's processes and future goals, allowing for a more seamless integration of data talent into your workforce.
But there are also many other benefits to using apprenticeships to upskill your workforce in data analysis. Below are some key advantages:
1. Tailored skill development - Apprenticeships allow your healthcare organisation to design customised training programmes that align with specific skill gaps and organisational needs.
2. Practical learning experience - Apprentices receive hands-on training, applying newly acquired skills directly to their roles in real healthcare settings, fostering immediate practical application.
3. Seamless integration - Existing team members can seamlessly integrate into apprenticeship programmes, minimising disruptions in healthcare service delivery.
4. Cost-effectiveness - Apprenticeships offer a cost-effective solution for upskilling as they combine on-the-job training with theoretical learning, reducing the need for external training programmes.
All of Cambridge Spark’s apprenticeships are funded by the UK Apprenticeship Levy meaning that there is no additional cost to your organisation in upskilling your workforce with data skills.
5. Knowledge transfer - Seasoned employees can mentor apprentices, facilitating the transfer of institutional knowledge and best practices, speeding up processes within your organisation.
“My team no longer relies on the MI team for basic Tableau functions, that previously would have required a ticket to be raised, that would add days to any quick changes.” Dominic Graydon, Planning and Forecast Analyst, SimplyHealth
6. Improved employee engagement - Apprenticeships provide a structured learning path that keeps employees engaged and motivated, leading to higher job satisfaction and retention rates.
7. Addressing technological advancements - Healthcare is evolving rapidly with technological innovations. Apprenticeships help existing staff stay updated with the latest tools and technologies.
8. Enhanced multidisciplinary collaboration - Upskilling through apprenticeships encourages collaboration between different healthcare disciplines, promoting holistic patient care.
9. Customised career progression - Apprenticeships offer a clear pathway for career advancement within your organisation, motivating employees to stay and grow.
10. Flexible learning pace - Apprenticeships can be tailored to individual learning speeds, accommodating diverse skill levels and learning styles.
11. Positive organisational culture - Investing in employees' growth through apprenticeships demonstrates your organisation's commitment to professional development, fostering a positive workplace culture.
12. Reduced recruitment pressure - Upskilling existing staff reduces the need for external hiring, helping your organisation address skill shortages and retain institutional knowledge.
13. Continuity of care - Apprenticeships ensure your experienced staff members continue to provide high-quality care while newer team members acquire skills gradually.
14. Alignment with industry trends - Apprenticeships can be designed to align with emerging trends and healthcare advancements, keeping your organisation competitive and relevant.
15. Long-term return on investment - The investment in upskilling through apprenticeships pays off over time as skilled employees contribute to improved patient outcomes, operational efficiency, and innovation.
Upskilling existing team members through apprenticeships not only enhances individual capabilities but also strengthens the healthcare workforce and your organisation's overall capacity to adapt and excel in an ever-evolving industry.
Our learning process and benefits of upskilling with a Cambridge Spark data analysis apprenticeship
Throughout Cambridge Spark’s data apprenticeships, aspiring data analysts engage in a mix of online and hands-on learning within healthcare settings, acquiring skills to extract, clean, and interpret complex medical data.
We believe in offering a balanced mix of experiential learning, technical mentorship, coaching and peer support to help our learners see the full benefit from our apprenticeships.
EDUKATE.AI learning platform
EDUKATE.AI is our own online learning platform. With access to lecture slides, recordings, quizzes, practical assignments and instant programming feedback, it gives apprentices a seamless and holistic learning experience.
There’s also no setup or installation involved with getting started on the platforms. Learners can access it by logging in directly from their web browser.
"One thing I really like is the fact that you can literally press 'submit' on an assignment and get tailored feedback on your code within seconds. That’s really useful because it allows you to do the work in your own time. It could be 2:00am, and you’re still getting productive feedback.” Alwin Raju, Senior Clinical Informatics Pharmacist at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust
We collaborate with industry-leading partners to tailor our data apprenticeships specifically for healthcare professionals. For example, you can find tailored programmes specifically for upskilling NHS staff to succeed with the relevant skills in their respective roles.
Personalised learner support
Each learner on our apprenticeships gets a dedicated learner success coach and data mentor. We believe in supporting our learners in not only their technical learning but their own personal development too.
“I recommend this apprenticeship as it offers a unique format of learning vs the existing methods of learning currently available. The delivery format combined with the technical, coaching and support make this learning programme a really effective way to learn" Hazel Lawson Harrison, Senior Scientist, GSK.
Flexible online learning
All of our programmes are delivered online, giving learners maximum flexibility and inclusivity when it comes to their studies. It also allows them to work from anywhere that suits their needs.
When learners start their apprenticeship with us they become part of a thriving community of data professionals. Learners are given the chance to tap into this incredible network of experienced professionals and peers enabling them to learn from each other.
All learners have access to our Knowledge Base forum where they can ask questions and engage in discussions with their faculty and peers.
Our online platform EDUKATE.AI gives learners real-world practice in a sandbox environment, accelerating their learning. Our apprenticeships teach learners how to apply what they’ve learned in their job role, benefiting your organisation from the very start of the apprenticeship.
“I can relate everything I learn to different parts of my job. We covered standard deviation in a session today with my coach Lucy, which has made me think I can relate this to my reference range work I do in audit, as well as relating to the financial work being done on the clinical tests.” Chloe Giles, Data Compliance Administrator, NHS
Overcoming staff shortages in healthcare
The single most common objection and biggest challenge with enrolling healthcare professionals in the UK onto any type of apprenticeship is constrained resources.
A 2022 report found that England was short 12,000 hospital doctors and more than 50,000 nurses and midwives.
This shortage has contributed to a growing dependence on expensive agency staff to fill crucial clinical roles. In some cases, NHS trusts are paying as much as £2,500 for a single agency nurse shift.
And if this trend continues, NHS staff shortages in England could exceed 570,000 by 2036.
Where data analyst apprenticeships are helping
With these kinds of pressures, it’s easy to see why healthcare organisations might resist the idea of putting their already limited staff onto apprenticeships. And it’s true that data analyst apprenticeships require learners to dedicate a minimum of 6 hours per week to off-the-job learning.
But in fact, apprentices on this programme have achieved lasting time savings within their organisations. Alwin Raju, a Data Analyst Apprentice and Senior Clinical Informatics Pharmacist at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, saved doctors 182 hours per year by applying what he learned within just four months of starting his programme.
Even apprentices in more basic data programmes are making major efficiency gains. Paul Knox, a Theatre Digital and Intelligence Manager at Mid & South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, saved a similar amount of time by applying learnings from his data technician apprenticeship.
Time savings like these have freed up healthcare professionals to spend more time with patients. And beyond that, apprentices have saved patients time and money as well, while directly improving health outcomes.
Rishi Ramessur, a Data Analyst Apprentice and Ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital, has made a remarkable impact, including:
- 88,841 Kilometres in patient travel saved
- £51,918 in patient transportation costs saved
- 7,500KG of CO2 emissions saved
- 17.5% lower complication rate identified for cataract surgeries
So while the time commitment involved in participating in an apprenticeship can seem prohibitive, for many organisations, the return on that time investment has been huge.
Future trends in healthcare data analysis apprenticeships
As healthcare trends and technologies continue to evolve, it is inevitable that our apprenticeships need to develop in order to keep up.
Future trends in healthcare data analysis apprenticeships will see more integration of AI and machine learning and these becoming a core focus.
Ethical considerations and data privacy could receive increased attention, while real-world challenges using actual healthcare datasets could provide hands-on experience.
Data visualisation, communication skills, and adaptability might be emphasised to convey insights and stay current in this evolving field.
Remote learning and virtual apprenticeships could persist, with a curriculum driven by industry needs and potential certifications to validate skills.
Looking to upskill your healthcare team in data analysis?
At Cambridge Spark, we offer data and AI apprenticeship tailored specifically for people working within the NHS. With an opportunity to progress from our tailored Level 3 NHS Data Citizen programme to our Level 4 and Level 7 apprenticeships.
Get in touch with us today via the form below to start your data-driven journey into the future of healthcare and future proof your healthcare team.
Fill out the following form and we’ll contact you within one business day to discuss and answer any questions you have about the programme. We look forward to speaking with you.