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

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The Improvement Analytics Unit (IAU) is a unique partnership between  NHS England and NHS Improvement 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.

Featured content

Briefing

The impact of Extensive Care Service and Enhanced Primary Care in Fylde Coast

November 2020
Briefing

This briefing explores IAUs evidence on how multidisciplinary teams may increase emergency hospital...

Briefing

The long-term impacts of new care models on hospital use

September 2020
Briefing

The briefing examines the impact of Mid-Nottinghamshire's Integrated...

More about the Improvement Analytics Unit

Article

Improvement Analytics Unit - FAQs

Article

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

Collection

IAU Resources for robust evaluation

Collection

A collection of resources developed by the Improvement Analytics Unit to promote understanding of...

Article

IAU Statistical Analysis Protocols

Article

The IAU statistical analysis protocols are intended to guide analytical processes. They include the...

Collection

Improvement Analytics Unit publications

Collection

A collection of our Improvement Analytics Unit publications.

Contact

Arne Wolters is Acting Head of the Unit, with joint strategic oversight from Adam Steventon, the Health Foundation’s Director of Data Analytics, and Ming Tang, National Director Data and Analytics at NHS England and NHS Improvement.

For further information, or to register your interest in taking part in an evaluation, please get in contact with Arne Wolters.

Find out more about the Improvement Analytics Unit team
 

Latest content

The impact of Extensive Care Service and Enhanced Primary Care in Fylde Coast

Briefing
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November 2020

This briefing explores IAUs evidence on how multidisciplinary teams may increase emergency hospital activity at least in the short term.

Integrated care programmes: We need to think long term when implementing and evaluating complex change

Newsletter blog
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29 September 2020

The IAU’s latest evaluation of an integrated care programme in Nottinghamshire measured progress over six years, showing potential to reduce hospital use over the longer-term.

The long-term impacts of new care models on hospital use

Briefing
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September 2020

The briefing examines the impact of Mid-Nottinghamshire's Integrated Care Transformation Programme initiatives on hospital use.

IAU Resources for robust evaluation

Collection

A collection of resources developed by the Improvement Analytics Unit to promote understanding of robust quantitative evaluation methods among analysts and those who commission evaluations.

IAU Statistical Analysis Protocols

Article
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23 January 2020

The IAU statistical analysis protocols are intended to guide analytical processes. They include the proposed evaluation design, statistical methods, and the limitations of the analysis. 

Evaluating digital first primary care – the challenges ahead

Newsletter blog
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29 October 2019

Arne discusses how the increasing use of technology in health care brings new challenges for evaluators.

Not just about the numbers: the power of data to drive change

Blog
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30 July 2019

Using insight from novel data analysis has the potential to maximise the impact of improvement programmes. Here, Filipe Santos explores new findings on care home residents’ use of emergency services.

The impact of providing an enhanced package of care for care home residents in Nottingham City

Briefing
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July 2019

Examining whether enhanced support had an effect on hospital utilisation for new residents who moved into care homes in Nottingham City.

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

Briefing
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July 2019

Evaluating the early effects on hospital use from the first phase of an enhanced support initiative for older people living in care homes in Wakefield.

Emergency admissions to hospital from care homes: how often and what for?

Briefing
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July 2019

Combined learnings from national linked datasets and focused care home evaluations in Rushcliffe, Sutton, Wakefield and Nottingham City.

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