First published: Health Awareness Supporting the NHS 2020, as part of featured Guardian supplement , December 11 2020, James Alder
Data collaborations are set to re-shape the way care for diseases like cardiovascular disease (CVD) are planned and personalised in the future.
Real–world evidence: The key to the future of disease prevention and research?
It’s by no means a revolutionary idea that any research looking into the effectiveness and efficiency of NHS treatments should be based on healthcare data collected in reliable and joined up ways.
Historically, this has been a challenge with data often being captured in many different places and not being joined together, leading to a confusing picture of how best to treat patients and plan care.
Discover-Now, led by Imperial College Health Partners (ICHP), is one of seven health data research UK hubs and specialises in real-world evidence data. Real-world evidence means data that is collected in real-world settings, in health for example this can mean during a GP or hospital appointment, visit to A&E or home visit by a nurse. The potential of real-world evidence is realised when it is linked together to help give a whole joined up view of a patient’s journey.
The UK’s leading health data access service
Discover-NOW supports access to one of the largest real-world evidence depersonalised linked health data sets in Europe. Through their combination of data access, tools, technologies and expertise, the hope of ICHP’s Information Director, Amanda Lucas, is that health data research will become the norm in how treatments are evaluated and improved.
“Having access to scaled up, depersonalised healthcare data, gives a clearer picture with how patients interact with healthcare in the real-world.”
“What this does is link together a patient’s journey through health, social, mental health care to provide a broader picture. Understanding that whole pathway was historically a real challenge, which is where our hub comes in.”
This data and these tools enable us to see where those gaps are and plan our interventions in a more targeted personalised way.
The power of data to improve future patient outcomes
Access to real-world evidence is one thing, but the ability to use it to tangibly improve treatments across the NHS is another altogether.
Collaborating is vital in addressing this challenge which is why Discover-NOW is bringing together NHS organisations, academic, industry, technology, research and charity partners as well as patients and the public according to ICHP’s Clinical Director and practising GP, Jonty Heaversedge.
He believes that these kinds of partnerships are key to unlocking better patient outcomes for those at risk of developing CVD, whilst also ensuring greater efficiency for the NHS.
“What we’re trying to do jointly with Amgen (ICHP’s industry collaborator in this instance) is to turn that real-world data into tools that people responsible for planning and delivering care can use to better identify patients and cohorts of society whose CVD treatment could be optimised further.”
“Are there any gaps in care for patients identified as being high risk? What are the opportunities for improvements? This data and these tools enable us to see where those gaps are and plan our interventions in a more targeted personalised way to ultimately improve patient lives.”
Amanda Lucas, Information Director, Imperial College Health Partners
Jonty Heaversedge, Clinical Director, Imperial College Health Partners, Practising GP, Translating data into improvements in practice