Lyndsey Allen: Health Service Modelling Associates (HSMA) programme accreditation

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Feb 1, 2024

Lyndsey Allen, Senior Analytics Consultant for the NECS Yorkshire and Humber Consultancy team and a member of the Consultancy Analytics team, tells us about her journey to achieve accreditation on the Health Service Modelling Associates (HSMA) Programme and how NECS has supported and encouraged her development.

“I started my analytics career in the NHS back in 2010 as an Analyst at a mental health and learning disabilities Trust. Over the years, I have gradually worked my way up the ranks in analytics, informatics and business intelligence. I am in the fortunate position to have a foot in two camps, working as part of both a national technical team and a regional team, which means I have a view of what is happening locally but also with a wider consultancy lens.

“One of the things that I love about my job is solving problems and the opportunity to always learn something new. However, the complexity and scope of healthcare analytics has seen significant changes in that time. As most of my learning was ‘on the job’ with occasional external courses, I felt like my technical skills weren’t strong enough. Advanced Excel and Python coding skills etc. are being taught more in a higher education setting, so I decided to look around for training opportunities.

“During my search, I came across the PenARC Health Service Modelling Associates (HSMA) Programme. This programme aims to upskill people within health, social care and policing organisations to use Operational Research (OR) and Data Science techniques to support operational service development and decision making. The programme promotes the use of open science and teaches exclusively Free and Open Source (FOSS) approaches and software. This training stood out for me, as its focuses on real-world examples in health, social care and policing, setting it apart from generic business intelligence courses. This was exactly the type of training I was looking for.

“The programme was completely free, but it would require a considerable amount of commitment and time.  After discussing the advantages of taking part in this course with my line manager, and receiving the full backing of NECS, I was delighted to be accepted into the programme, along with another colleague.

“During the first phase of the programme, I found myself immersed in a comprehensive curriculum, exploring Python coding, geographic modelling, Discrete Event Simulation and Network Analysis. However, it’s not until you apply that learning that the deeper understanding of these methods begins. It’s a journey where you’re not just taught; you’re guided on how to apply your new skills in the real world. For example, within weeks of covering geographic modelling, I was able to create bespoke charts for a client project and produced quality maps that added value to the overall project. The client feedback was extremely positive, saying how useful they were, and how they would use these in future bid proposals.

“During the second phase of the programme, I improved my Python skills by translating an Excel demand model, explored alternative data sources, different modelling and forecasting methodologies. We had access to a mentor to provide support and assistance. Following the final assessment, my accreditation was awarded on 13 December 2023, which I’m extremely proud of.

“Overall, my HSMA journey has been a transformative experience, opening me up to new approaches to analytics in the NHS. I found the real-world problem-solving expertise and the community support invaluable. From an organisational perspective, it’s a strategic investment in operational service development and decision-making ability.

“NECS is an organisation that cares and values their staff, which is clearly demonstrated through the support and time they allow for professional development. By enabling myself and my colleague to take part in this programme, it demonstrates NECS’ commitment to empower their people to be innovative and creative, to deliver high quality work for our customers, which makes it a great organisation to work for.

“HSMA is now an accredited course by the Association of Professional Healthcare Analysts, meaning you’re not just learning, you’re becoming a certified expert.

“If this sounds like something you would be interested taking part in, you can learn more about the HSMA programme and applications to HSMA6 are open now until 4 March, with the programme commencing 15 April.

“As well as the training that all consultancy staff receive when starting and the wide range of training all NECS staff have access to, the team also support bespoke training identified on a one-to-one basis.