The director of insight and data platform at NHS England and NHS Improvement has spoken about the role he and his team played during the pandemic and what he thinks is on the horizon with regards to data.

Ayub Bhayat, who is due to speak at Digital Health Rewired this month, has a background in technology and data analytics.

“My 17 years in the NHS has been filled with a variety of data, analytics, and software engineering type roles,” Bhayat told Digital Health News.

He first joined the NHS as an assistant analyst at Leicestershire Health Information Services and has worked in various roles across the NHS throughout his career. Most recently as director of insight and data platform at NHS England and NHS Improvement.

Bhayat has a passion for using data and technology to drive business transformation and in response to the pandemic, has led on the data infrastructure underpinning the NHS response to the pandemic and the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

“It’s been quite a journey, but  being able to help and make a real impact is what is important to me.

“Being of an ethnic minority background my family, like many others, was disproportionately impacted by the virus. I, again like many, lost family members, so giving something back kept me going.”

Build back better

Looking ahead, Bhayat said he hopes we can use what we have learned over the past two years to build back better and continue to harness the power of data to transform the NHS and deliver better outcomes for patients.

“For me, I have always been a data person, so it’s easy to be an advocate of data, but until the pandemic convincing people (who don’t have data or analytical backgrounds) of the value it can play in effective decision making and the place that it has in the board room has been an uphill battle. I think we have come round that curve now and we’re in a position where people want to be making data-led decisions,” he added.

“The next step is how do we sustain the momentum we have built, so that we don’t revert back to how we worked before and how do we make sure that data drives collaboration rather than silos?”

A great example of this collaboration, according to Bhayat, is the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme which brought together a number of teams, organisations and disciplinaries from across healthcare for a common purpose.

Bhayat continued to say that he believes the vaccination programme has “wet people’s appetite” for collaborative data-led projects and he hopes to continue to enable working across organisational boundaries, putting what is right for the patient ahead of organisational silos.

“What we really need to do now is leverage what has been achieved during the pandemic and drive on from there to support the recovery” he added.

“If we don’t share, you create these silos, so how do we provide a safe space and create a culture of sharing so that we are able to derive insights that drive transformation of services.”

Data being part of everything what we do

Looking ahead, when asked what lies on the horizon when it comes to data, Bhayat said he wants it to be part of everything we do within healthcare.

“We have a real opportunity with the formation of the ICSs to change how we use data to better coordinate care and re-design our service based on the needs of our citizens. . It’s a really exciting time to work in the NHS.

“So, the question I am asking my team now is, how can we support ICSs to achieve their full potential? The language during the pandemic was very much ‘how can we help’ and I don’t want us to forget that language.”

You can join Ayub on the AI and Data Stage at Digital Health Rewired on 15 March from 10:50am.

Taking place on March 15-16 at the Business Design Centre in London, Digital Health Rewired 2022 is a conference and exhibition which brings together all parts of the digital health community to celebrate the best of digital, data and innovation in health and care.

Health and care professionals will be able to network, collaborate and learn in person during two days of educational conference sessions, exhibitions and meetings, all focused on sharing best practice and innovation.

All the conference sessions will be CPD accredited.

While online registrations are now closed, you can still register at the door.