Big Data in healthcare

23 February 2017

NHS Digital is privileged to be guardian of some of the best data sets available to any health and social care system in the world. We are building on the foundations we have laid to advance into a position to transform information and technology to benefit frontline clinical staff, the public and system leaders.

Better information is the key to a more intelligent health-and-social-care system and to achieving major breakthroughs which will support the health-and-care system through a time of stretched resources and increased demand for services.

Data and information play a crucial role in the efficiency and effectiveness of the health and care system. We will build, co-develop and facilitate with our system partners, the creation of a further digitally enabled health-and-care system which supports the aims of the National Information Board.

We are also changing how we link data by following the patient journey through the health-and-social-care-system. Data will be organised around the patient pathway which will give us the opportunity to transform our understanding of how health and social care is working. This will be done securely, and within a framework that respects people’s privacy and data sharing preferences. We want to explore how we can utilise data – from sources like apps and wearables – to develop pictures of the experiences and outcomes of patients.

The analytical tools we are developing for clinicians and managers are intuitive, flexible and more accurate at interpreting the information they need. These interactive analysis tools will provide the baseline for innovation, save time, resources and put new data science techniques and tools at clinicians and health system leaders’ fingertips. We are also developing remote research data access environments that will allow researchers and others with the right permissions, to interrogate the specific data they have access to, without receiving entire data sets.

Underpinning everything we do is ensuring the public is confident that their personal health and care data are used and stored appropriately and securely. We look forward to implementing the National Data Guardian’s recommendations for managing patients’ data sharing preferences and make it easier for them to make informed decisions about how their data are used. We are leading cyber security across health-and-social-care, to ensure that data is held securely on local systems and guiding, training and supporting others to do the same.

All of this work is complemented by the technology programmes at NHS Digital which are developing innovative ways to deliver care models that respond to and are shaped by distinct local needs. It is a collective effort to re-invent how we use data and technology and realise the transformation of delivery of care.

Daniel Ray, Data Science Director, NHS Digital

This article was first published in Reform’s ‘Big Data in government: challenges and opportunities’ conference brochure. To read more articles, click here.

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