Usher Institute

FEATURING: The HSC DDI Talent programme team of 2021

Meet the Health and Social Care (HSC) Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) Talent programme team who provide their insight on the power of data in health and social care.

With our flexible learning pathway we aim to create a vibrant learning environment that enables health and social care professionals realise the value of data to benefit the health and wellbeing of citizens.

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The recent global pandemic and the current pace of technological change have highlighted the continued need for targeted teaching activities to increase health and social care data skills, employability and upskilling the future of a data-literate health and social care workforce.

Among the most important pillars of leveraging data science in the delivery of health and social care is to enable health and social care professionals to make data driven decisions.

Given the diverse workforce, data science is inherently a collaborative and creative field, it requires an interdisciplinary team approach to find innovative solutions. We design our teaching and learning content around an integrated workforce, which takes into consideration the entire health and care system. By growing new data capability for the health and social care sector, we prepare current and aspiring professionals to work in a data intensive environment where, new technologies and data driven innovations are abundant.

The Talent programme has been developed to provide data skills training and education across four distinct areas:

  1. Upskilling our current workforce
  2. Developing our future workforce
  3. Leadership education
  4. Citizen education

This includes an ambitious programme of activities to engage and train 20,000 students and health and social care professionals in the application of data. Meet our talented and diverse team who will shape and enhance the learning pathways to meet the training needs of our health and social care professionals.

Michelle Evans

Talent Lead and Programme Director

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My role is in leading the strategic direction and operational alignment of the HSC DDI Talent Programme activities in line with the City Region Deal aspirations. This includes building data science expertise across the learning pathway from new students to in-career professionals and lifelong learners.

I first recognised the need for upskilling health professionals in data skills during my time working at the Edinburgh Clinical Research Facility, where I led a national clinical research training programme. Clinical research, clinical trials and the NHS generate vast volumes of data and present enormous challenges to harness these big data sets to improve trial efficiency and increase impact on local and global healthcare challenges. Data skills, and computational thinking are critical attributes for healthcare professionals to address future needs, which in turn will benefit the health and wellbeing of our citizens.

As Talent Lead, I am faced with many challenges, including the requirement to reach a diverse range of students, health and social care professionals and hard to reach audiences both locally and globally. This requires an innovative approach to designing online teaching methods, student centred approaches and widening participation.

When dealing with unforeseen global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, it demands an imaginative and agile response to changing situations. Teaching and learning mechanisms need to be in place to support the workforce to upskill quickly and efficiently. My passion lies in facing these challenges and designing quality education and training in a variety of teaching modes that is relevant to society, diverse, inclusive and accessible to all.

Nazir Lone

Clinical Lead

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The COVID-19 pandemic has put the spotlight on the care delivered in the health service. Whilst healthcare professionals have been focussing on providing life-saving treatments to individual patients, large volumes of data are generated in the course of the care that they provide.

As a clinician working in intensive care, as well as an academic who uses data in my research, I have been championing the need for healthcare professionals to better understand the power of data, and how it can be used to improve patient care. I’m excited to realise this vision in my role as Clinical Lead of the Talent programme. Working with colleagues in the team, we hope to develop health and care workers so that they can transform care delivered on the “shop floor” for patients, families and the wider public.

Sharon Levy

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Lead

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As a telehealth nurse specialist by background, supporting people to maintain or regain optimal level of health and wellbeing, or care for those who experience ill health, is demanding, sometimes difficult and very often extremely rewarding. It also involves complex processes to aid making the right decisions, by using available data when and where the ‘touchpoint’ occurs.

The vision of our programme may affect professional practice, for the better, and may change our understanding of effective and efficient ways to address health and care needs. Yet, it is people that remain at the heart of any such endeavour and my role as a CPD lead is to craft and offer diverse learning opportunities to support the needs of people; those individuals currently delivering services, those who will become the future workforce in health and social services as well as citizens themselves. With others in the team, I work to ensure learners are able to harness data science and computational thinking and support service users who deserve a modern and fully integrated health and care system.

We are creating a learning journey that caters for those who are considering a career in the sector, those who are in training to become professional providers and those already working in health and social services. We want to influence leaders and researchers and plan and craft relevant CPD learning. We also seek ways to engage potential service users in the design and delivery of content so that learning is anchored in current and concrete lived experience.

Kasia Banas

Undergraduate Lead

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I am a psychologist by training, and have a keen interest in methodology and statistics – how do we know what we know, how can we find answers to the questions about human nature and behaviour, what methods do we have to analyse the data we collect? For over a decade now, I have been applying psychological theory and methods to study people’s health-related behaviour. With the technological developments of the last few years, we now have more data than ever to work with, and we are still figuring out how to make the best use of these new datasets and approaches.

My role is to demonstrate to undergraduate medical students that it is worthwhile for them to learn about data science, and to prepare a course offering that will get them excited about data. I believe in hands-on experience, and that is why the courses I’m working on will all have a very practical approach, showing students how they themselves can extract useful information from data, and communicate this to the public. One of my key projects is building a new intercalated degree in Data Science for Healthcare. This will provide undergraduate medical students with an opportunity to focus on data science for one full year, working with research and clinical supervisors in the Usher Institute, and completing an independent empirical project in this area. This degree would be the first of its kind in the UK, attracting students from other universities in the UK and internationally.

Our MSc Data Science for Health and Social Care aims to equip learners with a range of skills, tools and understanding to use the transformational power of data to improve the health and wellbeing, and the management of care systems locally and globally.

Mairead Bermingham

Senior Teaching Fellow and Dissertation Coordinator

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As a data scientist working in health and social care, I have a passion for research and teaching data science. My role involves coordinating the design and development of the teaching content for our new online MSc Data Science for Health and Social Care, which begins in September 2021. I am leading the learning design and am responsible for teaching, student support and coordinating dissertations in the master’s year of the programme. Through learning design workshops, our courses are created in partnership with students, health, social and care services professionals, academics, researchers, industry and internal and external partners.

The health, social and care services sector is rapidly embracing technology, creating new opportunities to utilise routinely collected data. Health, social and care services data take the form of personal data, imaging data, administrative data, service provider and user data, and massive data sets from care information systems. The traditional tools used in health, social and care services cannot handle such large volumes of data. We need to train health and social care professionals in sociology, ethics, law, epidemiology, statistics, mathematics, informatics, and computer science to build relevant tools to handle and extract value from this data. These training needs have led to the development of our postgraduate programme and it has been designed with ethics and responsible data collection and use at its core.

Magdalena Mazurczak

Administrator (and the glue that keeps the programme together!)

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My role supports the design and administration of our new and exciting Talent Programme. I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to support the teaching team and our professional learners in their learning journey through enhancing their data skills qualifications in all aspects of our training and education opportunities. In my professional career I have supported a broad range of educational divisions, focusing on the University of Edinburgh finance sector, research and teaching office administration. I see the importance of data driven innovation in all aspects of health and social care, not only in my own service user journey but also that of my family and friends.


Read more about the HSC DDI Talent Programme

Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal - DDI Programme website