Azure Synapse Analytics: Benefits and Application for the NHS

Date: Monday, July 1, 2024

In today's data-driven world, the healthcare sector stands to benefit significantly from advanced analytics solutions. Among the numerous tools available, Azure Synapse Analytics emerges as a standout platform, particularly for the NHS.

As an adviser to NHS Trusts for Data Analytics and Business Intelligence I see many NHS Trusts utilising Microsoft products like Power BI, Excel, and SQL Server, but few have tapped into the full potential of Azure Synapse Analytics. In this blog I explore the benefits and applications of Azure Synapse Analytics for the NHS.


What is Azure Synapse Analytics?

Azure Synapse Analytics, previously known as Azure SQL Data Warehouse, is a cloud-based analytics service from Microsoft. It offers comprehensive data processing, storage, and analytical capabilities in a serverless environment. The platform integrates machine learning and AI functionalities, making it a versatile tool for extracting valuable insights from large datasets. Synapse Analytics combines Cloud Data Warehouse and Big Data Analytics, allowing organizations to streamline their data management processes without needing separate Data Warehouse and Data Lake solutions.


Key Benefits of Azure Synapse Analytics for the NHS

 1. Improved Data Management and Storage

Azure Synapse includes Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2, which provides scalable, fault-tolerant storage. This storage solution is cost-effective and allows the NHS to maintain extensive datasets, including historical data, without the need for constant purging. By utilizing different storage tiers (Hot, Cool, and Archive), healthcare organizations can further optimize costs based on data usage patterns.


2. Enhanced Data Integration and Analysis

One of the standout features of Azure Synapse is its ability to seamlessly integrate data from various sources. The platform's serverless pools allow for instant querying and manipulation of data without the need for physical transformations. This capability is particularly beneficial for handling large, infrequently accessed datasets or initial ETL processes. Additionally, the integration with Power BI and Azure Machine Learning enhances data-driven decision-making, enabling healthcare professionals to derive actionable insights quickly.


3. Scalability and Performance

Azure Synapse's architecture supports scalable data processing, ensuring that resources can be dynamically adjusted to meet changing demands. For extremely large datasets, SQL Server Dedicated Pools offer massively parallel processing, distributing data across multiple nodes to maintain high performance even with terabytes of data and billions of rows. This scalability is crucial for the NHS, where data volumes can grow rapidly and unpredictably.


4. Reduced IT Overhead

By leveraging Azure's cloud services, the NHS can significantly reduce its IT overhead. Microsoft manages software updates and hardware maintenance, ensuring that the system is always running the latest versions with the newest features. This reduces the need for downtime due to patches and updates and eliminates the need for in-house hardware management, freeing up valuable IT resources for other critical tasks.


Applications of Azure Synapse Analytics in the NHS

1. Patient Data Management

 Azure Synapse allows for the efficient management of patient records, integrating data from various healthcare systems to create a unified view. This comprehensive data integration facilitates better patient care by providing healthcare professionals with complete and up-to-date patient information.


2. Clinical Research

Researchers can leverage Azure Synapse's powerful analytical tools to conduct in-depth clinical studies. The platform's machine learning and AI capabilities enable the analysis of large datasets to identify patterns and correlations, advancing medical research and contributing to the development of new treatments and therapies.


3. Operational Efficiency

Azure Synapse Analytics helps improve operational efficiency by providing insights into hospital operations. Data analysis can identify inefficiencies, optimize resource allocation, and improve patient flow. For example, predictive analytics can forecast patient admission rates, enabling better staffing and resource planning.


4. Real-Time Analytics

The ability to process and analyse data in real-time is crucial for the NHS. Azure Synapse supports real-time analytics, allowing healthcare providers to monitor critical metrics and respond promptly to emerging situations. This capability is vital for managing emergency cases, tracking disease outbreaks, and ensuring timely interventions.



Azure Synapse Analytics offers a robust and versatile platform for the NHS, providing significant benefits in data management, integration, scalability, and operational efficiency. By adopting this advanced analytics solution, the NHS can enhance patient care, support clinical research, and improve overall healthcare delivery. Embracing Azure Synapse Analytics is a strategic move towards a data-driven future, enabling the NHS to meet the growing demands of modern healthcare.


Further resources

Case Study - Black Country NHS Trust adopt a Synapse analytics based BI Solution. Read more


Podcast - “Seize the Data! The business of becoming a data-driven organisation”, by Graham James. Listen Here


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About the Author

Graham James has a background in Enterprise Information Solutions within the Manufacturing, Education, Healthcare and Supply Chain sectors. He worked for the NHS for 18 years, the last 6 years at Trust Director level. | LinkedIn


About Village Software

Village Software specialise in app development and data analytics and reporting. We enable NHS Trusts, Universities, and large private sector organisations to transform through the power of data. | LinkedIn | Contact

Graham James

Graham's background is in Enterprise Information Solutions within the Manufacturing, Education, Healthcare and Supply Chain sectors. The depth of his Board level experience in IT adds dynamism to the management team to grow in traditional and new markets.

Read more posts by Graham James