As the COVID-19 pandemic started to hit the UK, the open data and data visualization team at NHS Digital was tasked with quickly gathering and analysing the associated data and presenting it in a way that would help decision makers and assist with creating policy in response to the pandemic.
With the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly evolving and escalating, the NHS Digital team had to quickly prioritise the data that would be collected, analysed, and presented to different stakeholders.
It used AWS to store and process the data, with AWS Partner Tableau providing Modern Cloud Analytics to analyse and visualise the data and insights in the form of dashboards for the relevant stakeholders.
The organization made this choice because it needed a backend infrastructure that could be scaled up to store and process the vast amount of data, integrated with front-end technology that could manipulate this data into a form that could be easily shared and understood.
This was the first time NHS Digital had been commissioned to create a mass public dashboard. By using multiple providers, including Tableau and AWS, NHS Digital delivered the first of the crucial new dashboards in a few days. The project, as a whole, completely changed how the NHS can visualise data.
Previously, visualizations were built using aggregate data. NHS Digital has now developed secure infrastructure that can host patient-level data in dashboards, enabling vaccine management dashboards and appointment-level information. This enables clinicians and general practitioners (GPs), who can now use smartcard authentication to access these dashboards, to make risk-based decisions, changing the way population health is managed.
As these dashboards deal with the most sensitive patient-level data, the use of smartcards means they are also highly secure. Where data is non-patient level, NHS Mail with 2 factor authentication is used. “This ability to go from aggregate data, all the way down to patient level data in a secure way, while challenging, has been immensely transformational,” says Alistair Bullward, head of analytical functions at NHS Digital.