Research using SAIL wins UK’s Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) award

The Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC) were the proud recipient of the ‘Addressing health inequalities through NHS finance action award’ at a ceremony held in December 2022.

The HFMA Awards programme recognises the work of finance teams and individuals from across UK healthcare, focusing on the importance of engaging clinicians in financial management. The HFMA is the professional body for finance staff working in healthcare, providing independent support and guidance to its members and the wider healthcare community.

Competing against UK-wide competition, WHSSC were recognised for their work in demonstrating value for money and equity of access for the interventions it commissions, for which they used anonymised data held securely in the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank.

WHSSC was established to ensure that the population of Wales has fair and equitable access to the full range of specialised health services and represents all seven Local Health Boards in Wales, helping to maximise efficiency and consistency.

Their research looked at how investment earlier in a patient pathway could reduce upstream costs and improve equity. The research showed variation in costs between cardiac patient groups for the same intervention primarily driven by levels of deprivation.

We caught up with Research Officer and Data Scientist, Gareth Davies, based within Population Data Science at Swansea University, who collaborates with the WHSSC team to find out how the SAIL Databank helped facilitate the research.

“Using anonymised linked patient data within the SAIL Databank’s secure trusted research environment, we took a value-based approach to analyse activity across patients’ pathways.

“We took a data-led approach, detaching from any preconceived notions of expected outcomes.

“From eight separate cardiac interventions, the resultant health resource usage was compared pre and post intervention for a 2 year period on either side of the intervention, with a 6 month washout period immediately adjacent to the intervention removed to reduce excess noise.

“The rich depth of data analysed to date has already provided valuable insights, and continues to yield powerful research opportunities for further analyses and impactful findings.”

The following organisations and individuals are involved in the research:

Jacqueline Evans – Committee Secretary and Head of Corporate Services
Prof Kerryn Lutchman Singh – Assistant Medical Director
Richard Palmer – Senior Specialist Planning Manager
Kendal Smith – Financial Planning Karla Williams – Admin Support Cancer & Blood Commissioning Team

NHS Wales Collaborative
Lloyd Evans MSc. – Head of Health Intelligence
Dr Jonathan Goodfellow – National Clinical Lead, Wales Cardiac Network
Public Health Wales
Dr Michael Thomas – Consultant in Public Health Medicine

Swansea University
Ashley Akbari – Associate Professor Population Data Science Research
Rowena Bailey – Senior Researcher
Gareth Davies – Research Officer & Data Scientist
Ronan Lyons – Professor Population Health