The Health Foundation has announced it is making significant investments towards a new programme of work to explore the impact of data analytics and technology on health and care in the UK.
Building on the Foundation’s established reputation in data analytics, the plans outlined today aim to tackle real world problems that affect people’s health and to develop our understanding of the role that technology and data is increasingly playing in our daily lives.
There is rapid innovation in the use of analytics and data-driven technology (including artificial intelligence) in health and care, with huge investments from big industry accelerating the pace of change. This week the government also announced a new £140m artificial intelligence award for health and care. Recognising the increasing impact that technology is having on the UK’s health - both for good and for bad - the Health Foundation has set out how it aims to help policymakers, practitioners and the wider public to get to grips with the seismic changes taking place.
A key part of the strategy is to establish major new partnerships and research initiatives, and to collaborate with innovative organisations to take this agenda forward. The Foundation is already working with Health Data Research UK*, The Alan Turing Institute and NHSX.
Today’s announcement follows the recent launch of the Foundation’s Networked Data Lab, a project which aims to build a network of data specialists across the country to work on shared challenges in health and care. It also builds on other established initiatives, including the Improvement Analytics Unit, a partnership with NHS England and Improvement.
While many of the impacts of data and technology on health and health care are hugely positive, they also have the potential to exacerbate health inequalities, and increase demand for an overstretched health and social care system. The Foundation’s data team will be conducting research and analysis into these issues, and developing innovative ways to address them.
A key focus will also be to ensure that the health and social care system maximises the value that data holds to the health and care system, so it will continue to champion better analytics across the sector, offering funding and support for innovative work, and creating networks and communities of data analysts. It also aims to spread and share data analytics tools and methods through events, resources, publications, and collaborating with others.
Dr. Adam Steventon, Director of Data Analytics at the Health Foundation, said:
‘Data is being used to drive innovation in ways that can revolutionise health care, including early disease detection, easier access to care services and encouraging health promoting behaviours. But such technological advances also carry the risk of harm to patients.
‘As a nation we need to advance our understanding of these fast moving changes. This new programme of work will help us to do that, enabling us to explore how analytics and data-driven technology can create better heath and care for people across the UK.’
Dr. Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive at the Health Foundation, said:
‘The field is moving very fast, with huge opportunities and risks for health and health care. As an independent charitable foundation, this new investment will help us work with others to help shape the agenda as objectively as possible. It builds on the major data analytics capability and insights we’ve developed over the last five years.’