Leeds City Council worked with Aire Logic in 2020 to make better use of data – helping to manage coronavirus in the city, direct resources to the right settings and guide public health decisions.
Data guides the council’s outbreak plan, which includes the following principles for managing Covid-19 in Leeds:
- being proactive, preventative and positive, emphasising what people can do to keep themselves and others safe, while building public trust and confidence
- strengthening our approach to working with communities, building community resilience and targeting work that prioritises the most vulnerable and socially disadvantaged
- communicating openly, promoting good public health behaviours and persuading people to make choices that will keep themselves and others safe
- co-producing solutions with people, communities, community leaders, and partners to build the confidence and trust of the public
- using agile and flexible approaches to partnership working to make the most of the resources available, manage risk and meet changing circumstances
Before the pandemic, the UK Health Security Agency (previously known as Public Health England) was responsible for managing infection rate data and communicating it to local authorities. But, due to the scale of Covid-19 outbreaks and the rising volumes of infection, this became a bigger responsibility at a local level.
The health protection team at Leeds City Council was keen to harness data, intelligence and good practice to prevent transmission and manage outbreaks across several settings, ranging from schools, workplaces and communities to care homes and prisons with high-risk populations.
The team manually collected and organised data emailed from their partners into multiple spreadsheets, performing their own analysis. But this was a lengthy, inefficient and unreliable process.
For example, the team received nearly 50 emails per day, while their largest spreadsheet totalled 12,000 rows of data. Meaning the spreadsheet was slow to load and was liable to crash.
As a result, it became clear that the time spent preparing the data could be better spent on analysis that would allow the council to take meaningful action.
Building a data management system
Data is integral to the council’s outbreak plan and is used daily by the health protection team.
To support the team to make better use of data, Aire Logic built a data management system to automate the process of data collection and analysis of Covid-19 cases across different settings.
The system's robot automatically uploads data to the system, so it’s viewable almost instantaneously in various dashboards showing different settings.
The dashboards detailing the daily outbreak summary across partner settings and Council wards are available once the health protection team logs securely into the system. The tool helps the team glean insights much faster than reading through emails and doing their own analysis.
To date, the dashboards have enabled the team to:
- Report on the city-wide outbreak situation to key partners
- Identify any council wards of concern to understand what has been driving cases
- Spot care settings with high transmission numbers, helping partners to offer support and reduce the impact of outbreaks
- Discuss high numbers in schools with the School's health and safety team and Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) on a frequent basis
- Support the wider Government’s vaccination programme by using data to help focus targeted work
The team can also search to view a specific care setting in the dashboard, which is much quicker than trying to filter through a spreadsheet. The reporting tool helps the team to support decision-making at a strategic level.
If partners provide information over and above that which is routinely collected, the team also uses forms4health (an eform) to submit information to the data management system. This has been extremely helpful to the team during the pandemic whilst new variants of coronavirus emerged.
And it doesn't stop there, the health protection team is continuing to work with Aire Logic to ensure any new data is being read by the system's robots and submitted to the data management system. This is due to the fact that partner data submitted to the council is subject to change.
In future, partners will be able to complete and submit data directly to the data management system using forms4health, which is intuitive, user-friendly, and provides guidance to ensure accurate data entry.
How better health data insights have supported Leeds City Council outbreak plan
Since introducing the data management system and dashboard in 2020, the team have seen significant benefits that support productivity and efficiency, and guide data driven decision-making.
- Data or information is viewable in one place, which is easier to analyse or interpret.
- Team members have saved a great deal of time otherwise spent on tasks involving data preparation and organisation.
- Less data handling, means less error. Prior to the system, the team would manually enter information into a spreadsheet.
- Changes or trends are trackable over time using historical data.
- Councillors, the Environmental Health Service and services like Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) are updated in a timely manner.
- Partners and the wider system are assured of data quality.