Imperial College Health Partners joins network of data experts looking to solve the UK’s most pressing health care challenges

Data specialists at Imperial College Health Partners will receive funding of up to £400,000 over two years to join a national network of experts who are working to address some of the biggest challenges facing health and care services today, both nationally and in north west London.

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.

While there is already a wealth of data which could be used to paint a clearer picture of the country’s health needs – including from GPs and specialist services to hospital care and local authorities – the Health Foundation explains that this information is often very fragmented and does not capture all of the health and care services that patients are likely to receive.

The Networked Data Lab aims to address this challenge by using linked captured at a local level across health and social care and using this to create unique insights that will help national and local decision makers to better understand the needs of their community, improve existing services and design innovative new approaches to delivering care.

Areas where the Networked Data Lab could produce important insights include identifying and mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable groups who are shielding. For social care services, improved data could help identify older people who could benefit from early intervention to reduce the number of emergency admissions to hospital. And better data could identify gaps in care for those with severe mental illness, helping services prioritise care for those in greatest need and reducing the number of patients that reach crisis point.

Sarah Deeny, Assistant Director of Data Analytics for Better Health, at the Health Foundation, explains:

‘What has been clear throughout the COVID-19 crisis, is that data and information are often the key to solving our most pressing health and care issues. They have played a fundamental role in understanding the challenges presented by the virus and in finding innovative ways to work and solve problems. But these complex challenges extend beyond the current crisis – we are going to have to be smarter in future to ensure that health and care services meet the needs of patients.

‘The good news is that people are living longer than ever before but more us have long-term health conditions, and there are growing health inequalities with those in the poorest areas experiencing significantly worse health. We need innovative approaches to delivering care to patients and a better understanding of what is happening on the ground if we are going to meet these challenges.’

Dr. Wayne Smith, Health Economics Lead at Imperial College Health Partners said:

“This collaboration provides an exciting opportunity for analytics teams from across the country to come together and collectively tackle some of the most pressing issues in healthcare. Using the rich data sets and analytical expertise we have available, we will develop insights and share methodologies around specific topics, including the sector wide response to COVID-19, which will allow local and national system leaders to make informed decisions. The past few months have shown, more than ever, how population health management can shape the future of service delivery. We look forward to working with our local partners and the wider analytical community to use the power of analytics to solve some big issues.

Working with a team at the Health Foundation, analysts at Imperial College Health Partners will use the same statistical code, and will collaboratively develop analysis plans to interrogate linked health and care datasets. The Health Foundation team will provide support and leadership on project management, design of analysis, shared statistical programming, and synthesis of findings. The Foundation will also share learnings and the code used to analysis, to achieve impact at national and local level.

Media contact
Simon Perry, Health Foundation
020 7257 2093

The five partner organisations are:

  • The Aberdeen Centre for Health Data Science (ACHDS) which includes NHS Grampian and the University of Aberdeen
  • Public Health Wales, NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS), Swansea University (SAIL Databank) and Social Care Wales (SCW)
  • Imperial College Health Partners (ICHP), Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI), Imperial College London (ICL), and North West London CCGs
  • Liverpool CCG, Healthy Wirral Partnership and Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Leeds CCG and Leeds City Council