ABERDEEN RESEARCHERS TACKLE UK’S BIGGEST HEALTH CARE CHALLENGES

Data specialists at the Aberdeen Centre for Health Data Science which includes NHS Grampian and the University of Aberdeen will receive funding of up to £400,000 over two years to join a national network of experts who are working to address the biggest challenges facing health and care services nationally and in Aberdeen.

The Networked Data Lab, created by the independent charity the Health Foundation, is the first network of its kind, bringing together analytical teams from across the country to develop a deeper understanding of the factors affecting people’s health in the UK. It will focus on today’s most pressing challenges, such as understanding how to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable people who are shielding or identifying the unmet need of those with severe mental illness.

While there is already a wealth of data which could be used to paint a clearer picture of the UK’s health needs – including from GPs, hospitals and local authorities – this information is often very fragmented and does not capture all of the health and care services that people are likely to experience.   

The Networked Data Lab’s partners are already successfully linking data locally, and by combining their expertise, knowledge and experience, the Health Foundation is aiming to create unique insights.

These will help national and local decision makers to better understand the needs of their community, improve services and design innovative approaches to delivering care.

Professor Corri Black, Co-Director Aberdeen Centre for Health Data Science and Consultant in Public Health Medicine, NHS Grampian adds: “As the Aberdeen Centre for Health Data Science we are delighted to bring our partners from the University of Aberdeen and NHS Grampian to this collaboration with the Health Foundation, and to be part of the Networked Data Lab. 

“The Networked Data Lab programme will enhance our local relationships demonstrating the benefits of data informed decision making where the local context and knowledge is so important. The Networked Data Lab will also enable us to work together at scale across the network to address the big challenges in health and care. The recent experiences with Covid-19 has demonstrated the real need for both approaches. 

“The Networked Data Lab is a hugely exciting new way of working, bringing together professionals from across organisations with our local communities, breaking down barriers to work together and improve health and care.”

Sarah Deeny, Assistant Director of Data Analytics at the Health Foundation, explains: “What has been clear throughout the Covid-19 crisis, is that high-quality and comprehensive data and information are often the key to solving our most pressing health and care issues. Data has played a fundamental role in understanding the challenges presented by the virus and in finding innovative ways to solve problems. But these complex challenges extend beyond the current crisis – the same innovation will be needed in future to ensure that health and care services meet people’s needs.”

The Network Data Lab will also share freely the learnings and the code used to analysis, for others to use, to achieve impact at national and local level.