Health and Care Data: Improving Lives Through Research event

Prof Andrew Morris, explaining that the healthcare sector lags behind other areas in the implementation of AI technology

On the 3rd December 2018 Jacob attended an event entitled ‘Health and Care Data: Improving Lives Through Research’, which was organised by NHS Digital and took place in Leeds. The event was an opportunity for NHS Digital to promote their current projects and network with employees from across other non-clinical divisions of the NHS which manage data, along with clinicians and researchers.

Presentations at the event were focussed on how potential uses of data in the NHS could be maximised for patient and public benefit, and a small part of this related to opportunities for research. Speakers highlighted the imminent release of the NHS Long Term plan, due out between the 12th and 21st December 2018. The long term plan will include a 10 year vision for research and innovation, across three life periods (denoted by the terms: ‘early life’; ‘staying healthy’; and ‘ageing well’), four key priorities (cancer; cardiovascular and respiratory; mental health; learning disabilities and autism), and across five enablers (workforce, primary care, digital innovation and technology, research and innovation, engagement).

The event gave a general sense of optimism for the future of data as a tool for improving care for patients, including several allusions to a future where patients are enabled to submit their own data (including blood pressure readings) to their healthcare providers through online portals. Indeed, it was mentioned that with certain electronic patient management systems, this is already possible, though the facility is underused. Our next phase of research in the Tracking Ourselves project will explore clinicians’ views of the self-monitoring of blood pressure and BMI, and our results may help to inform this vision of the future.