With the launch of our brand new Business Intelligence and Analytics services, designed specifically for our NHS customers, we would like to introduce you to our Lead BI Consultant, Paul Brady.

Paul’s role at Trustmarque is to help healthcare organisations to use the data they are already collecting to find ways to improve patient care, improve processes and revitalise their reporting, whilst reducing costs. Paul has extensive knowledge of BI and Analytics tools, such as Power BI, and has 14 years of experience working in and with the NHS.

Here’s our interview with Mr Brady.

What is your background?

I studied Materials Science and grew up in high volume manufacturing. I started out in production management but went on to specialise in Product development and solving complex business problems. I never really appreciated what I learned until I started consulting in other businesses. I adopted Lean manufacturing the hard way, through trial and error. I started teaching Lean Manufacturing in multiple industries and in 2006 moved across to developing and teaching Lean Healthcare via hands on, real world projects.  By working on real issues with healthcare staff we were able to develop our own Lean Healthcare examples. I’ve been involved in over 300 projects and taught over 3000 NHS staff a range of service improvement techniques including SPC and Lean at all levels. I am lucky to have an in depth understanding of healthcare issues and even spent a year on the executive team of a hospital.

What brought you into Data and Analytics?

I’ve always used numbers to solve problems, the more complex the problem, the more complex the numbers involved. I used Excel, as I was, and still am pretty good with it. Not quite knocking out VBA off the top of my head but 3rd round of the world championship good. I used it to understand complex healthcare systems and provide a deep insight into everyday problems such as Emergency Departments, District Nursing, Mental Health Diagnosis, Inpatient flow and many others. Data is one of the three key elements to a successful project; People, Process and Data. It’s a mantra and method I learned by making mistakes many years ago and still holds the key to any project today.

What sparked your interest in Power BI?

The problem was always my Excel work was complex, fragile and hard to replicate. There was always a risk the spreadsheet would “break” and the organisation would lose vital data and insight. Then along came Power BI, a chance to combine multiple, huge datasets, automate tasks and present complex data in a way to make it understandable. I started working with Power BI in September 2015.  At the time I was combining attendance data for three hospitals for an Academic Health Sciences Project which needed millions of rows capability on my desktop.

How Has Power BI Developed since then?

It has changed almost beyond recognition. From a distance it still looks like a visualisation tool i.e. drawing pretty graphs. In 2015 there were 32 visualisations, as of today there are 194 with more added every month. That is the most obvious change but “under the hood” is where the most dramatic changes have taken place, including connectors to almost every type of data, integration with R and Python. There is AI driven “helpers” to write code and draw charts that extract the deepest of insights. Things like “Column from example” where you write the answer you want, and it creates the code to give you that answer. A sort of backwards programming, ideal for learners.  There is a desktop release almost every month with new features all aimed at deeper insights and easier learning.

“It’s great to see the data presented in a different way and not in a flat report. Not only is it all in one place, it’s more dynamic and you can better identify questions or issues that might arise.”

What have you been doing with Power BI for Trustmarque?

Even though I’m predominantly in healthcare, I’ve also been working in a number of industries, as well as supporting government departments. My favourite projects have been the end to end “solve this” challenges where I work with front line staff, understand the processes and do the analytics. The end results are tangible improvements and dashboards that are deeply insightful, fully functional and usable on an ongoing basis. I have a special interest in Emergency Departments (A&E’s) and am currently helping a number of trusts to understand the complex inputs, outputs and flows within their departments.

The other areas I’ve been concentrating on are setting up our practice-based learning Power BI training. Even with customers who have Power BI desktop and dashboard building skills, the most common help request we get is to support organisations to do an enterprise deployment. As Power BI has become more useful and by default, more complex, organisations need help navigating the many available options to suit their particular use cases.

What ‘s keeping you and Power BI busy at Trustmarque?

There are massive technical improvements available today such as Dataflows (a potential self-service data warehouse built on Azure Gen2 Storage using the Common Data Model (CDM)). The user cases for these are being developed with customer projects. The biggest piece of work is to move from reporting the past to predicting the future and integrating Machine Learning and AI as part of normal work. That’s not because they are buzzwords, but because they are tools to help solve complex problems. We are already doing some of this with our own Azure specialists developing models such as “duration of procedure”, “probability of admission”, “probability of LOS” etc.  From a Power BI perspective, the integration of the Azure ML stack and Cortana analytics suite within Power BI which came out this April (2019) is very much keeping me busy. To be able to call individualised attribute models will result in the next step change in care provision and prevention.

What does the future hold for you and Power BI?

There is a clear direction of travel away from dashboards. The tools are already in place. The Q+A function allows you to find the answer to complex questions in a natural language. The automated insights lets you explore unfamiliar data at the touch of a button. The use of Cortana voice and Q+A means that you can ask your “dashboard” a question and have a verbal or graphical reply directly on your phone. Combine this with automated alerts based on trigger values and the world is moving away from building monolithic dashboards where you have to look and see what’s wrong, to automated alerts and ad-hoc verbal requests for information. There will always be a need for deep insights but the balance between building/reading/interpreting and automatic delivery will shift.

And that’s it from Paul.

If you would like to find out how Paul and the rest of the Trustmarque BI team can help you change your organisation, you can visit our BI & Analytics pages or email your Trustmarque Account Manager or [email protected]