4 Ways Big Data Will Drive Big Change For The NHS

The Value Engineers recently had the privilege of attending a talk over breakfast by Sarah Wilkinson, CEO of NHS Digital, at The Royal Society.

After a delicious breakfast, Sarah spoke to us about what the future looks like for the NHS’s information and technological partner – the people on a mission to harness the power of information and technology to transform the NHS and social care.

Sarah talked us through the four key focus areas that will shape the future strategy, and all their associated challenges.

  1. Empowered Patients: The aim is to empower patients by making as much of the data held on them visible on the app as possible. This could mean radiology scans will be readily available and patients may even have visibility over what research cohorts they qualify for, creating a sense of control and empowerment.
  2. Collaborative Clinicians: the goal is to make data both accessible and usable for clinicians – linking primary, secondary and tertiary care. AI technology will make the job of clinicians much more efficient. An example of this is speeding up diagnosis process when analysing X-ray results through an automatic comparison of past scans.
  3. Seamless Research communities: The wealth of data that the NHS can pick up is incomparable to anywhere else in the world and must be used to facilitate research. However structure is just as important as access: data must be structured a way that enables the NHS to retain the value of the research.
  4. Accessible Independent statistician: In a similar vein, a critical function for the NHS is to act as an independent statistician for health and it produces many reports available online.

Sarah was quick to recognise that there are many obstacles to overcome in order to unlock such great potential.

Currently, different institutions have varying standards of data control and there is a mass of information that is currently not digitalised. The data needs to be cleaned up and standards harmonised to a high level of detail without the task being too onerous. The size of the challenge is not to be underestimated.

Health and care data is both uniquely sensitive and uniquely complicated. In this context, GDPR can be reframed from the enemy to an opportunity to make guidance on personal data more rigorous.

Ultimately, and with all of the necessary caveats, Sarah was able to provide a glimpse into a very exciting future for data in the healthcare world.

With the potential to revolutionise the healthcare landscape, how might this impact your brand?

By: Nick Campbell

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