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Making diamonds out of sausages

Making diamonds out of sausages

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Data collection and storage is by no means an effortless automatic process; it can be expensive, complex and bureaucratic. In his blog, Andi Orlowski, Director of the Health Economics Unit at NHS Midlands and Lancashire, explains where analysts can and want to help, and how data – once analysed and formed into something valuable and meaningful, can help you make the best-informed decisions. 

“Most hospital discharge data is useless,” said the HSJ headline recently, reporting comments by former NHS CEO and current chair of two NHS trusts Sir David Nicholson. This twitched my antenna because data is obviously neutral; it’s what you do with it that counts. On this, Sir David is spot on, because data only develops value when you analyse it to learn from it. A diamond in the ground is of no value until it has been unearthed, polished, refined, categorised and turned into a product. Data is no different; it is just there, occupying gigabytes, consuming energy and inert until analysed.

Data collection and storage is by no means an effortless automatic process; it can be expensive, complex and bureaucratic. Beyond naturally created datasets accumulated by activity, there are the manufactured and curated datasets. These are created to demonstrate or prove a point or provide accountability, and can take on a life of their own, spawning data collection industries designed to feed policy-making and political fashions of the moment. 

Read the rest of Andi’s blog.

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