In consolidating its response to COVID-19 in 2021, the UK Government set up a new government agency. Bringing together three existing health institutions, the agency has played a central role in national decision-making around the pandemic. This new organisation’s focus was public health protection, infectious disease capability and leading responses to future health threats. At the inception of the new agency, 11 Strategy Sprints were commissioned. One of these was the development of a comprehensive data and analytics strategy, where EY was asked for help.
We were tasked with creating a compelling vision, with details around how this would be delivered. Given the nature of the project, it was far from straightforward. Challenges included the high public profile of COVID-19 data and analytics, and the need to bring three very different organisations together – a long-established health protection and improvement organisation, and two organisations built in 2020 in response to the pandemic, with a largely temporary workforce from across government and the private sector. The alignment of priorities for short-term and COVID-19 responses, as well as agreeing longer-term priorities and capabilities for after the pandemic, would be critical.
In light of the evident challenges, we applied a rapid five-week sprint approach based around collaboration and expert insight. To incorporate expert experience into the design process from the outset, we carried out over 70 internal and external interviews. Stakeholders were asked to share their perspectives on organisational ambition and the lessons learned from COVID-19, as well as providing critical challenge, and included some of the most senior medical professionals in the country – such as the UK’s Chief Medical Officers and Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) members – along with institutions from other countries renowned for their use of data in their COVID-19 response. In an interview with EY, Sir Patrick Vallance, Government Chief Scientific Adviser said: “I want the data and analytics function to be leading in analytics across the global health ecosystem.”
Through collaboration with data and analytics functions across all three legacy health organisations – and a wide range of expert insight – we delivered a stand-out, 43-page strategy report outlining the vision, principles and roadmap for the agency’s data and analytics capability. The insights gained and the collaboration across the field helped build out a best-in-class data and analytics function. We successfully set out an ambitious future vision for data and analytics that would help shape the UK’s response to COVID-19. The supporting detail that brought the vision to life also provided the core elements for the planned transition of data and analytics teams from the three existing organisations into the new agency. Plus, we’ve built a building block for the whole organisation, with the strategy and vision continuing to be the anchor point, even over 12 months later. Crucially, the data and analytics strategy that we have helped deliver now underpins key components of UK health strategy, and will be critical to UK society and its resilience to current and future threats.
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