Using health data for research helps us to better understand diseases and conditions – their causes, prevalence and symptoms – and it can provide new ways of treating them or spotting them earlier.   There are lots of examples of how health data science has improved our knowledge of health and care and has helped solve challenging health problems.

For example, the use of patient data has helped:

  • Diagnose rare disease – for example, whole genome sequencing has pinpointed the underlying genetic changes responsible for conditions in many patients through the 100,000 genome project
  • Improve performance of health systems – for example, NHS data has been used in research to reliably detect unacceptable variation in healthcare provision, for example in the case of Mid Staffordshire NHS trust Hospitals Trust
  • Identify disease early – for example, machine learning technology has been used on thousands of eye scans to identify signs of eye disease and recommend how patients should be referred for care
  • Study the effects of immunisation – for example, a comprehensive research study proved that the MMR vaccine is not associated with autism, which validated a public health policy that has saved a significant number of lives
  • Assess the safety of medical interventions – for example, use of comprehensive databases has shown that transfusions of blood from people who go onto develop cancer do not increase the risk of cancers in the blood recipients
  • Make connections between disease and lifestyle choices – for example, NHS data was used to comprehensively establish the link between smoking and cancer

Video below is courtesy of Understanding Patient Data