Why is health data research important?
Today, in the age of digital communication and high-tech research, providing access to data is more important than ever before.
Research using health data continues to show us how it can be used to better understand diseases and conditions so that we can make the right changes and improve health and care. Hear from a range of people in the video, courtesy of Understanding Patient Data, who share their thoughts on why we need to talk about patient data.
There are lots of examples of how health data research has improved our knowledge of health and care and has helped solve challenging health problems.
- Diagnosing rare diseases – for example, the 100,000 Genomes Project analysed the entire genetic code in patients and families affected by cancer and rare diseases, to pinpoint the underlying genetic changes responsible for their conditions
- Improving the performance of health systems – for example, NHS data has been used in research to discover problems in healthcare delivery and unacceptable variations between regions
- Identifying diseases early – for example, machine learning technology has been used to analyse thousands of eye scans to identify the early warning signs of eye disease and recommend how patients should be referred for care
- Studying the effects of immunisation – for example, a comprehensive research study proved that the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine is not associated with autism, validating a public health policy that has saved a significant number of lives
- Better understanding why certain populations are affected differently by the same disease – for example, a number of different datasets are being used to explore why certain ethnic groups in the UK have an increased risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes
- Assessing the safety of medical interventions – for example, use of comprehensive databases has shown that blood donated by people who go onto develop cancer does not increase the risk of cancers in those who receive it
- Making connections between disease and lifestyle choices – for example, NHS data was used to comprehensively establish the link between smoking and cancer.