Alan Louden, head of business at ReferAll, explains how a dive into the nitty gritty of your referral data alongside some benchmarking against similar schemes can help ensure your own scheme’s success.“As a data management platform, ReferAll is used by Public Health teams, local authorities, leisure trusts and NHS organisations across the UK. In helping them provide lifestyle services such as exercise referral, weight management and living with chronic conditions, we also collate a considerable amount of high-level data, which can be used to provide insight to inform decision making.
The key to getting the most insightful analysis out is to ask the right questions of the data in the first place. That’s why we created our first ever Data Insights Series. When schemes are in full swing, there’s often no time to step back and do the analysis. So right now, with leisure centres closed and schemes unable to deliver their usual services, it’s a good time to take stock, examine the data and use it to help shape re-opening plans.
The top line
We’ve had 582,000 referrals into our system, alongside which users have recorded 1.1 million attendances at meetings or activity sessions. Furthermore, users have also recorded 16 million answers that people who’ve been referred have given as part of questionnaires. That many answers – covering everything from biometric measures to mental health scores – adds a great deal of real-life depth to our dataset.
At ReferAll we define ‘take-up rate’ as the number of participants who started a lifestyle intervention programme versus the number that were referred. Across all programmes on our platform, the average take-up from the point of referral to the commencement of intervention was 57% (programmes range in duration from six to 43 weeks) – so slightly more than half of everyone who was referred actually went to a centre and got involved.
It’s worth considering that a number of factors affect the overall take-up rate. For example, many people are referred two, three or more times before they are ‘ready’ to make a lifestyle change. Each new referral creates a ‘referral record’ and is tracked against that patient for reporting purposes. Alongside this, some schemes receive referrals for patient’s that don’t match their inclusion criteria and require signposting to a more appropriate service – all this can affect the overall take-up rate. It’s important the individual scheme provider records and monitors the reason for not participating. ReferAll software has a unique feature for reporting this.
For commissioners and scheme administrators alike, it’s when we consider the dynamics between the different indicators we measure and how the metrics correlate that we can really show what works, what doesn’t and what leads to a successful scheme.
For example, from an operational perspective, the average age of participants referred to all exercise on referral (EOR) using ReferAll is very interesting. We commonly assume people on EOR are 60 plus and therefore approaching retirement, and so tend to offer daytime interventions. But when we drill down into the data, we see more people under 50 are referred than over.
This suggests our assumption that EOR sessions are best offered during off-peak hours is not always correct, as these people will almost certainly work during the day and so require sessions outside of business hours. Should operators be programming some EOR sessions at peak times, to better meet these needs?
Traditionally, peak times are not offered due to lower charges for EOR clients. How can operators think creatively to offer integrated gym and exercise classes whilst meeting financial targets? It is unlikely, with the current COVID-19 pandemic, that face-to-face group sessions will return to ‘normal’, so can operators continue with their innovative delivery options currently being witness, for example, online exercise sessions outside of the 9-5 timetable?
That said, we understand that not every scheme operator can access this level of detail. Many schemes are still run using spreadsheets, which makes analysis painfully difficult, if not impossible. With ReferAll’s software you have detailed analysis at the touch of a button and there’s never been a better time to use it.
If you’d like to get greater insight on your EOR scheme, email Alan at firstname.lastname@example.org who will share scheme-specific details to allow you to compare and benchmark your individual schemes against our aggregated data sets.”