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Liverpool John Moores University launches big data healthcare initiative

Caroline Baldwin

A conglomerate of organisations has launched The Liverpool Big Data Collaboration for Health (LBDCH) initiative to link patients' health records between NHS trusts to exploit analytics technology.

The LBDCH aims to collect health and social care data to better manage and monitor patient treatment.

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The initiative brings together key partners from health and academia, including Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), to take advantage of the opportunities of big data analytics.

Other partners include the University of Liverpool, Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group, Liverpool Health Partners (LHP), The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals Trust (RLBUHT), and the North West Coast Academic Health Science Network.

James Norman, director of information management and technology at the RLBUHT, said: "The potential for big data in a collaborative hub is to support research, commissioning and completely transform healthcare across Merseyside. We're quite excited about that. It combines healthcare IT and the most transformative projects."

Exploiting big data analytics

The partnership with LJMU will create a jointly owned big data informatics facility to investigate the potential of big data for operational, clinical and research purposes.

The facility will employ data science skills with operational and commercial management. The technical infrastructure is intended to work across a number of sites to expand operations across the north of England.

Dr Farath Arshad, head of the Centre for Health and Social Care Informatics (CHaSCI) at the LJMU School of Computing & Mathematical Sciences said: “The Big Data Collaborative is an example of the type of engagement that is proactive, leveraging technological skills which the University has already developed. 

"The expertise that LJMU brings to the partnership is unique in that it demonstrates, through an existing project, how patient-specific data on long-term conditions, such as diabetes, can be harnessed to create patient self-care tools.”

Pioneering treatment with patient data

The organisations involved in the initiative believe the NHS needs to employ big data analytics to gain insight from the vast datasets available. LBDCH said this approach to data could, for example, support the move towards diagnosis and treatment based on a patient’s genetic profile.

Big data will also help the NHS share health records across organisations, avoiding the need for repeat investigations when a patient moves between NHS trusts.

Other benefits include providing a richer database for clinical research to evaluate services and treatments and to strengthen bids for external funding.

But in recent months the NHS has been criticised over its Care.data programme, which planned to expand the collection of patient care data from hospitals to include general practice. The programme failed to explain the benefits of data to the general public and the NHS was forced to put the plans on hold for six months.


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