Healthier data means healthier minds for Mental Health Concern
By Kyle Brown
Mental Health Concern, a UK-based non-profit dedicated to providing free mental health services, is using Talend to deliver integrated, healthy data for decision making.
What’s the connection between better use of data and better mental health services for patients? The organization is using Talend to connect multiple systems and data sources so it can make reliable information more accessible and more trustworthy for stakeholders across the company. Everyone from the organization’s leaders to operations specialists to therapists who work directly with patients now have data-driven insights at their fingertips, enabling them to make more informed decisions and consider new approaches.
Creating a data culture to serve more people, better
Mental Health Concern provides a wide range of services, including dementia nursing care, social prescribing, supported housing, 24-hour specialist adult care, dementia respite care, and community wellbeing groups.
“Our goal is to make mental health services very, very easy to access, and we want to make our services available to more people over time,” says John Slator, Head of Data and Insights at Mental Health Concern. “That meant our architecture strategy had to change. We needed to start basing our decisions on data rather than hunches, and we needed modern tools that could give us insights today and grow with us.”
The previous environment did not provide a single source of truth or data quality that could be trusted, according to Slator. “There wasn’t an easy way to connect our systems or data sources, so we had a lot of ad-hoc reporting, which is very time-consuming,” he says. “And the functionality was limited to a few specific use cases.”
That’s why Talend really stood out. “Talend could solve our immediate challenges and support our journey in the years ahead,” explains Slator. “In fact, Talend showed us a roadmap of where they wanted to go as a company, and it aligned with where we wanted to go as an organization.”
Working with consultants, Slator’s team implemented Talend for data integration and data health — and chose Snowflake for its data warehouse needs. Together, these and other solutions enabled the team to replace their time-consuming ad-hoc reports with accurate, trustworthy reports that could be generated quickly. “We were able to provide integrated, trustworthy data that now guides core decisions,” Slator reports.
“The implementation went smoothly, and we discovered Talend had capabilities above and beyond what was in our initial project plan,” he continues. For example, with Talend’s support for multiple connectors they could build pipelines very quickly — which was critical for saving time and improving reporting capabilities. Talend also has an intuitive user interface and is relatively easy to use, which was important because the data team didn't have much Talend experience.
The Data and Insights team also found that Talend helps protect patient data with built-in NHS-compliant security controls, and Talend gives them the ability to improve overall data quality. “We knew our data quality wasn’t good at the outset, but Talend helped us identify exactly what the weaknesses were and how to improve data health,” says Slator.
It takes a community
To ease the transition to a new architecture and give the team the specific skills it needed, Talend provided access to both the Talend Community and the Talend Academy.
“We did not have extensive Talend skills in-house,” explains Slator. “The Talend Community has been a fantastic resource for us because, eight times out of ten, if you pose a technical question to the group, you’ll get a very useful answer very quickly. We don’t always have the luxury or the budget to take a multi-day, intensive course about a specific feature or function, so that capability saves us a lot of time and money.”
The Data and Insights team also takes advantage of the online training and support services provided by Talend Academy. “It really helps us learn the basics quickly and then get on-demand training when we need it,” he says.
Overall, Talend has delivered beyond expectations. “Talend has enabled us to explore new use cases that weren’t part of our original project plan,” says Slator. “But most importantly, we have been able to create a data culture that gives our organization greater agility and confidence in the accuracy of our reports.”
And that makes it possible for Mental Health Concern to break down barriers. “We can offer recommendations on how to do things more efficiently,” says Slator. “We can give therapists reliable reporting and say, ‘Here’s what the data shows — have you considered this approach?’ And over time we’ll be able to serve more people because we’ll be more efficient and agile in everything we do as an organization.”