By Ken Wieland
30 July 2019
LONDON -- The headline figures are eye-catching. According to what consultancy Ernst & Young (EY) describes as an independent report, entitled Realising the Value of Healthcare Data, clever use of anonymised patient data – advanced datamining, for example, using AI and natural language processing – could lead to an annual £9.4 billion benefit to UK taxpayers. The figure is based on improved health outcomes for patients and greater operational efficiencies for the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).
To keep within the bounds of patient data confidentiality,
the report provides a suggested framework in which the NHS can ethically
harness and process patient data. In short, this means that the type of data
collected is not individual patient records. “Only the processed output, which
is linked data-sets run over an extended length of time -- making it anonymous
-- are of use in the advancement of medical research and improved patient
care,” said the report.
“Patient-level records will trace a complete story of a
patient’s health, wellness, diagnosis, treatments, medical procedures and
outcomes,” said Pamela Spence, EY partner and global health sciences and
wellness industry leader. “This can only be delivered by unlocking the power of
data. But value isn’t in the data itself -- it’s in the power of the analytics
and the clever insights that can be generated from algorithms, and the actions
that can be taken as a result. Value will come to those who can innovate to
produce health outcomes tailored to individuals, with high degrees of precision
The EY report stressed that analytics and predictive models
are helping address one of the biggest costs to health care, namely the
treatment of chronic diseases. The main factors that influence the risk of
developing chronic diseases include medical history, demographic and socioeconomic
profiles. By aggregating data related to these factors, the idea is to sharpen predictive
analytics to help identify those individuals who are at risk of suffering from
these chronic conditions.
“Advanced data mining, such as AI and natural language
processing, will help reveal patterns and trends that will allow health care
providers and other stakeholders to improve diagnoses, treatments and
operational effectiveness,” said the report.