3. Analysing the information

The approach you take to analysing and reviewing the information you have collected will depend very much on the type of HNA you have undertaken.  There are no hard and fast rules, but it is important to take a systematic approach.

It can be helpful to group the information you have obtained into categories. For example if you have been looking at the health needs of older people, you may want to begin by using four groupings: demographic and social information, data on the use of secondary care services, use of primary care resources and patients perceptions and priorities. Using such categories can be particularly important if you have a lot of qualitative information to analyse.

When analysing and presenting quantitative information, it is helpful if you can express the information in three basic forms – the total number, the number as a percentage and the number as a rate. For example, if you are looking at the health needs of children under 15, you may have established that there were 2430 consultations by children under 15 in the previous year and that this group of patients accounted for 25% of all consultations in that year. You could also say that you have 630 children under 15 registered with your practice and in the last year 96 out of every hundred consulted their doctor at least once.

Analysing and presenting information in this form helps to set the numbers in context but it also provides a basis for comparisons with other practices or district and national figures.

Don’t feel that you have to undertake sophisticated statistical analysis. Simple bar charts are a perfectly adequate starting point for discussions.

Your aim should be to use simple approaches well and produce information which is relevant and readily understood.

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