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Understanding your data & questions to answer

Identifying the right data to answer some of your organisation’s key questions and challenges.
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First one is, how can health care delivery or service provision be improved by data? Well, these days a lot of people are talking about big data, which is generally population-level data. It’s anonymized data sets that universities and researchers use. My interest is in personal data, so that my health records, my lifestyle records, I think there’s a lot of value in personal data. And if it’s handled well– I’m carrying several devices at the moment– a lot of that data can be saved and my personal data store. And also that of my family, my children, my elderly mum that I look after. All that data can be used by a family to effect a circle of care.
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So that’s what I’m particularly interested in the use of is personal health data that can then be shared to statutory bodies such as health and council. But the central point is my data and I want to share it. And do you think people have the necessary skills to actually use the data? No. Certainly not in the public sector. At the moment we’ve got in Glasgow City Council there’s 36,000 employees in Glasgow. We have a data team probably of five, a data science team, and really we’re just beginning to spread the word about the opportunities for data. So we don’t yet have the skills.
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We’re trying to get to as many senior managers within the organisation so that they understand the opportunities. But the actual skills of what you then do with the data, and how you can bring that into an operational environment, we don’t have that yet. And do you think it is being used effectively in this sector just now? I don’t think it is being used effectively. I think it’s about skills. I think it’s about people’s appetite for data, and actually their knowledge about how they can use data to transform their services. How do you bring that data to life and at the moment, that’s how it’s presented.
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It’s dry numbers, and it’s about people trying to interpret that in a more constructive way. So I think the visualisation is something that we can see as something that people recognise straightaway. And they can pick it up and they can see it in the changes within their services. So I do think that that visualisation piece is where we need to focus our energy on. How we present our data has to be really thought about. Dry spreadsheets don’t give anybody any sort of clear idea of what’s happening. But graphs, visualisation, the way in which we present is way in which I think we’ll get real adoption on the value and the benefits of data.
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The Power of Data in Health and Social Care

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