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Why data is important for the Health and care sector

Why data is important for the Health and care sector.
As a component of our health and social care sector, how important is data? So I think for health and social care today, data is increasingly important. So historically, in health and social care, we’ve collected data, but kind of in a haphazard, almost, way. So we collect it maybe for auditing purposes– sometimes for reporting– but we haven’t been really systematic about how we track patients, how we track people that get devices for social care. And I think if we start to organise our data about people, generally, a bit better, we can start to look at things like predicting disease outcomes. Or possibly doing things like detecting when to intervene if an older person needs help, for example.
So there’s all this promise of how we can be more preventative and proactive about keeping people well for longer. But underneath that, we need to have the data in order to let us see or predict who we need to intervene with, and at what time. I think it’s really exciting how important data is to the whole health and care sector. I think it comes into every aspect of the work that’s being done. And even if you use things like, from a governance perspective– how are you staffing up hospitals– with the opportunities available to us now, we can look at even using weather predictions in order to staff the appropriate levels of people in A&E department, for example.
So it’s coming into everything. And it’s– using data most appropriately across the board will give us lots of different options and of different benefits as well.
From my point of view, I think it’s really important. Because for example, when you look at diagnosis and treatment, you want to make the most effective decisions. So if you don’t make these decisions, you will either increase the length of the treatment or it will be more costly, et cetera. So you will be using up your resources in an ineffective way. But also you might be causing just actually more harm to the patients. Or in the case of social care, the people who need the care. So that’s why it plays an increasingly important role– just in general– both in health and care sectors.
So in terms of modern artificial intelligence and machine learning approaches, medicine, health, and social care is one of the very biggest application areas. And what we want to do here is– obviously we want to automate tasks where we can bring benefits to the patients and the care users. And also to the professionals who are engaged in that care. And all of these modern artificial intelligence approaches for this require large amounts of data– large amounts of good data– in order to make predictions. Without the data, these AI techniques can do absolutely nothing at all. So it’s absolutely crucial to modern AI methods to have good data.
So I suppose we’ve established that data comes in all aspects of health and social care. However, what do you think will bring the greatest opportunities in the future? For me, in health and social care, I think of it as staying well. So things like consumer devices, also equipment to hospital. Or even as we grow older, we might have technology in our house, for example, that tracks where we are and what we’re doing and how we’re feeling. So one of the big opportunities, I think, for health and social care data, is to link all that data in a more meaningful way.
So not to just think of it as health care, as clinical or NHS data, and then social care data being separate. But to look at all the devices and all the data that comes from those different devices. And maybe use that to help us model our lifestyle in a way that might allow us to plan and predict for services or interventions when we need them. So it’s about linking all these different data opportunities together that I think will unlock some of the potential for better use of data. I think you just mentioned there, Marilyn, about the wearables. It’s really exciting to me as well.
So we’re now able, basically, with the new technologies– data collection devices– on people’s persons, and obviously with the internet– to collect data second by second, monitoring patients. It could be in the home. Or it could be in the hospital. And so second by second monitoring gives us that really exciting picture of how someone is developing and whether it’s their blood pressure over time. Or if they’ve taken a fall in the home, for example– that second by second monitoring is really exciting. But I also think, in terms of people using it themselves and getting buy-in to their own health– is really exciting as well.
So even if it’s just an application– a social application– that allows you to compare yourself with your peers, you know, you’re enjoying the idea of increasing your fitness, for example. But also when it’s more medical and you’re looking at monitoring of your blood pressure levels, your blood sugar levels– you’ve got that constant monitoring. It’s on your device. And, you know, you’re so much more engaged in the process. Which, I think, is a really big opportunity for us.
I think one of the really exciting areas where data has a big impact and will be having an increasing impact, will be in medical research. Because obviously, you know, the more data you have, the more effectively you can identify whether you have to diagnose a patient, how to treat a patient, whether a method of treatment will work on some particular set of patients. And especially when you consider the case, obviously, gets more and more complicated when people are in different stages of illnesses. And they have, maybe, multiple health issues. And so on and such. And the same obviously goes through when you’re currently trying to do drug research.
So you obviously have tests– you know, like, stages, so you go stage one, stage two, stage three, et cetera. And obviously it depends, also are we still in the country. But with increasing amounts of data– such as continuous monitoring– gives you the huge dimension of what is actually going on rather than traditionally static– let’s say laboratory tests– happening every day or every week. So that gives us huge opportunities. And does that take you to things like personalised medicine? Yes. Absolutely. So it’s giving us a lot of understanding with regards to different people. And then, rather than giving the same pill to every patient with that specific disease, you can actually just specify it for different people.
Whether it’s genetic properties will dictate that or whether they have other health problems will dictate that, and so on and such. Yeah. I think one of the most exciting opportunities are for the immediate deployment of artificial intelligence techniques for continuous monitoring. So we’ve already mentioned the continuous monitoring of patients and also of people who are, perhaps, in a social care situation can assist them. Well, what artificial intelligence systems can do is that they can use the data that they’ve been given, together with the model they’ve inferred from that data, to recognise when a patient, for example, is beginning to show signs of decline. So an alarm can then be raised. And nurses and doctors can be dispatched as appropriate.
And these early warning signals can be picked up because of the large amounts of data that have already been collected– the historical data that shows that this particular set of symptoms indicates this. And this can be used in a social care situation as well, where people are in their own homes or in care homes. And they can be monitored. And again, professionals can be sent when appropriate. So we’re moving away from the idea that people are monitored by human beings at fixed intervals towards the idea that they’re being monitored continuously by artificial intelligence techniques.
So I think this is a great opportunity to use the technology in a way that is completely appropriate and which will give much more timeliness to the interventions. Yeah, and really complimenting, then, the human interactions– Absolutely. –at that point. Yeah. Absolutely. That’s the idea.

This discussion with Steve, Marilyn, Dr John Levine, Dr Kerem Akartunali and Janette Hughes outlines how important data is for the health and care sector now and in the future.

It outlines areas where improvements can occur in general to provide positive benefits. The video takes a look at how data can be used for preventive and prediction, improving the patient experience, how the daily life of people and patients can be improved and also how data can be used in medical research.

The discussion outlines that new techniques with managing data including artificial intelligence (AI) can lead to better outcomes in general and support wider outcomes. AI can also be used to monitor data from patients to understand when a patient’s health is declining.

The discussion also illustrates how data can support the delivery of care to individuals using individual specific data as well as trends and data from wider groups to infer meaningful findings on how to improve care to individual patients.

Pick one of the techniques or opportunities described in the video. Do you find it exciting? Do you have any concerns? Please explain your reasoning in the comments.

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The Power of Data in Health and Social Care

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