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Extract from OxSTaR's database management system, a result of this project


Data can be powerful, it can illustrate an organisation’s health; report progress; justify costs and highlight areas for improvement. However, collecting and managing large amounts of data has its challenges. Spreadsheets and paper records work for simple datasets but become increasingly hard to organise and prone to error as data demands rise. This report aims to highlight some of the tools and technologies available today for making sense of data in the context of a healthcare education centre.


Oxford Simulation Teaching and Research (OxSTaR) is the University of Oxford’s simulation centre. Over 2500 healthcare professionals attend over 250 courses per annum. We needed a robust system to capture, safely store and report data from a rapidly growing portfolio of training and research activity. Design of a new database provided several advantages over our pre-existing methods of data management. Unlike an assortment of spreadsheets and paper files, databases allow for superior organisation of big datasets. They also provide a centralised, single point of access, giving staff more control, simultaneous access to the system and improved security/backup.

In addition, we wanted to address the issue that our current systems lacked interoperability. Databases can provide the basis for a connected information technology (IT) system; they are designed to integrate with other applications, extending the versatility and usefulness of a data system. Later in the report, we explore applications for streamlining data capture and another for creating interactive ‘data dashboards’.

View the full report here:

Taming 'biggish' data report