Improvement Analytics Unit

An innovative partnership between NHS England and the Health Foundation providing robust evaluation of complex changes in the NHS


The Improvement Analytics Unit (IAU) is a unique partnership between NHS England and the Health Foundation that evaluates complex local initiatives in health care in order to support learning and improvement.

We evaluate initiatives such as those being delivered as part of the sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) and Integrated Care Systems (ICSs). By providing rapid feedback to service leaders and decision-makers at both a local and national level, we help to identify what is working well and what might need to change in the future to improve outcomes.

Over the last decade, a number of national transformation programmes have been established to improve quality and efficiency in health care, often through the provision of more integrated care. The best analytical approaches to evaluate the impact of complex changes such as these are demanding to apply and the required capability is not always available in the NHS.

The Improvement Analytics Unit aims to fill this gap by:

  • providing robust evaluation of complex change to support the development of strong and effective health care systems 
  • identifying whether outcomes for patients have changed following the introduction of a new initiative and to identify, so far as possible, why
  • helping to spread the use of data analytics in the NHS for the purposes of quality improvement
  • strengthening the robustness of the body of evidence available to inform national policy development.  

Our approach

Robustly evaluating the impact of complex change often requires the use of a counterfactual control group. Counterfactual analysis relies on making a comparison between a group of patients who have experienced an intervention with a carefully matched control group who have not. We take a wide range of factors into account so that we can be sure that any differences observed between the two groups are likely to be the result of the intervention.

The team at the Improvement Analytics Unit are experts in the use of counterfactual analysis – one of the most rigorous ways to determine the real impact of interventions.

Supporting improvement

Our aim is to support learning and improvement through evaluation. 

Combining analysis from the Improvement Analytics Unit with local intelligence helps to guide the development of improvement on the ground. We know such improvement is complex and takes time. However along the way, the analysis can be used by those delivering change to bring valuable insights and to identify whether they need to alter their approach (‘course correct’) to improve outcomes.

More about the Improvement Analytics Unit


Improvement Analytics Unit - FAQs

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the Improvement Analytics Unit (IAU).

Newsletter feature

Improvement Analytics: a new resource in the improvement toolbox

The NHS has seen a succession of change initiatives. Most significantly in recent years, The Five Year Forward View outlined ...

Latest publications from the Improvement Analytics Unit


The impact of integrated care teams on hospital use in North East Hampshire and Farnham

This briefing examines the early effects on hospital use of introducing multidisciplinary integrated care teams in North East...


The impact of providing enhanced support for Sutton Homes of Care residents

This report examines the effect of the Sutton Homes of Care vanguard on hospital use for new residents who moved into one of ...


The impact of redesigning urgent and emergency care in Northumberland

The Health Foundation has considered findings from analysis into the early impact of changes to urgent and emergency care ser...


The impact of providing enhanced support for care home residents in Rushcliffe

This briefing looks at the impact of a package of enhanced support for older people living in care homes.

Latest blogs from the Improvement Analytics Unit


Identifying the active ingredients for success

Adam Steventon, Director of Data Analytics, welcomes new investment in community health care teams but encourages the NHS to ...


Integrated care teams: insights from our latest Improvement Analytics Unit study

As the population ages, more people are living with complex health needs, including multiple conditions and frailty. In his l...


Learning from unintended consequences

Understanding the unintended consequences of change and how to learn from them is essential for the development of a strong a...


Evaluating complex change: The role of formative evaluation

Formative evaluation during the early stages of programme development can inspire us to look again, ask questions and identif...


Enhanced support for care home residents

It is a momentous week for the Improvement Analytics Unit. The first analysis conducted by the unit – our partnership with NH...


The Improvement Analytics Unit is led by Martin Caunt, with joint strategic oversight from Adam Steventon, the Health Foundation’s Director of Data Analytics, and Charles Tallack, NHS Head of Operational Research and Evaluation.

For further information, or to register your interest in taking part in an evaluation, please get in contact with Adam Steventon or email Martin Caunt via

Find out more about the Improvement Analytics Unit team


Health Foundation response to National Audit Office report on developing new care models

Press release
28 June 2018

Adam Steventon, Director of Data Analytics at the Health Foundation, said: ‘The NHS has not yet gone as far as is needed in transforming care for patients, however, there are promising signs of improv...

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We look for talented and passionate individuals as everyone at the Health Foundation has an important role to play.

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