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  • Writer's pictureRichard Chambury

Maximizing Data Insights: The Impact of Totara and POWER BI Integration at University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust

About University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust (UHDB)

University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust (UHDB) is one of the largest hospital providers in the country, caring for over one million patients each year, and employing 14,000 NHS staff.

The trust is comprised of two acute hospitals and three community hospitals, providing exceptional care to the populations of Derbyshire and Staffordshire

The Challenge

The Totara software had not long been implemented at UHDB when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Our totara Learning Management System (LMS) had allowed us to maintain a Learning and Education function throughout the pandemic, despite social distancing restrictions. Although the Totara software offered a modern and accessible system for managing learning, our compliance inevitable took a hit.

UHDB entered a "post-COVID" recovery period, not only with patient facing services, but within our Learning and Education function too. It was clear that an immediate compliance improvement project was needed to restore training requirements that had been relaxed during the pandemic.

The Solution

During the initial stages of the compliance improvement project, it became clear that line managers and leaders within the organisation were missing an intuitive and simple method for reviewing training compliance in one place. Totara has a fantastic suite of reporting functions, but our leaders on the ground were telling us that we needed something more visual, something even easier to use, something that could be brought up at the touch of a button and used to quickly brief teams. Particularly when team meetings must be concise and add value.

The initial fix was to export raw data from Totara and use this data to manually populate a spreadsheet which allowed leaders to view overall compliance with several graphs and charts. After several months, the burden of the manual data manipulation became unmanageable and better solution had to be developed.

It was at that stage we decided to reach out to our in-house Business Intelligence Department and the newly formed "HR Analytics" team (HRA). Using the humble excel workbook as a guide and with an integration between Totara and POWER BI, HRA were able to design and implement a suite of training dashboards which enabled us to display compliance information for our Mandatory and Role Essential training.

Deploying Totara as the primary LMS and with the use of integration, has allowed a seamless data flow from the LMS to POWER BI. Additional integration with other HR systems has allowed HRA to exclude 'non-available staff' from the compliance data before it is displayed on the dashboard.

Another integration utilised at UHDB is the bi-directional link between ESR and Totara developed by directly with NHS England. In doing so, we have been able to transfer thousands of training records in and out of the LMS for NHS staff moving between organisations.

Not only does this hugely reduce the potential duplication of training for new starters, but it also saves a huge amount of time and money.

Since the integration between ESR and Totara went live in 2022, it is estimated that UHDB has saved over 10,000 training hours, which is equivalent to the average pay of over £100,000.

The Results

The Training dashboards now allow line managers and senior leaders within the organisation to view compliance in various forms depending on hierarchy filters selected. These dashboards allow easy identification of compliance outliers, by staff group and department. Once outliers are identified, users can drill trough the figures to produce staff lists and NHS contact information. Furthermore, there is a dashboard dedicated to expiry forecasting, allowing manager to assess training needs and enable forward planning, months, and years in advance. 

Initially updated once per month, the integration between Totara and POWER BI has now enabled our dashboards to be updated weekly and we're not stopping there.

Having real time data has already had huge impact on the confidence that our leaders have in the quality of the data that is displayed on the dashboards. Whereas before leaders would have to wait a whole month to see compliance data, which by the time it was published, was already potentially 6 weeks out of date, leaders now only wait 7 days.

Soon, users will only have to wait until tomorrow to see the affect of any training that has taken place today.

With confidence in compliance data at an all-time high, use of the dashboards and analysis of the data has increased, meaning managers are much more likely to use the data to encourage staff to update their training compliance.

In the past 12 months, the trust has increased mandatory training compliance by 4%, with the compliance to date sitting at 90.30%. This is the highest compliance achieved since April 2019 and largely due to the Totara platform and reporting toolkit.

Next, we will be working with the Business Intelligence Team and HRA and Operations to design and launch a scenario-based forecasting tool that will use staffing, environmental and national data to predict future rise and fall in compliance, which lead to improvements with insights and planning.


The functionality of Totara software has yielded substantial cost savings for UHDB:

Staffing Cost Reduction: By leveraging Totara's efficient processing capabilities, UHDB has saved £40,000 per year in staffing costs. This is attributed to the increased processing speed, which has allowed the organization to manage workload with existing staff rather than hiring replacements for those who have reduced hours or left the trust.

Anticipated Savings with HR Data Automation: UHDB expects an additional annual saving of £21,000 in staffing costs once HR data automation is implemented. This automation will eliminate the need for manual processes, further streamlining operations and reducing reliance on additional staffing.

Total Savings to Date: Since the implementation of Totara, UHDB has realized an estimated total saving of £230,000. This includes savings from both staffing efficiency improvements and integration with the CSTF ESR interface.

Looking ahead, UHDB anticipates continued cost savings and operational efficiencies with the ongoing utilization and optimization of Totara software. These savings underscore the significant impact that effective technology solutions can have on organizational productivity and resource management.

The link between totara and POWER BI has produced a powerful tool that has been rolled out across the organisation. Together, totara and POWER BI have created a valuable resource for our leaders which I'm sure has already made an impactful difference to the quality of care and the safety of our colleagues and our patients.

Director of People Services

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