Healthcare: big data in the UK

Artificial intelligence and big data in the UK have long been identified as major opportu­nities to prevent illness and revolutio­nise care. Public trust around NHS data sharing, once severely damaged from a mishandled high-profile care.data project which attracted negative media headlines, is now recove­red and the NHS is looking forward.

Use of data and technology to prevent illness

To mark the NHS’ 70th anniversary, the UK prime minister outlined a com­mitment to ‘lead the world in the use of data and technology to prevent illness’, as part of a £20bn funding pledge for the NHS across a wider 10-year funding plan.

As part of this vision, a £37.5 million investment in a series of Digital Innovation Hubs across the UK was announced by Health Data Research UK, which are tas­ked with developing faster new treatments for diseases like cancer, heart disease and asthma.

The digital innovation hub programme

The Digital Innovation Hubs programme is part of the Indus­trial Strategy Challenge Fund Wave 2 with an investment of £210 million for ‘Data to Early Diagnosis and Precision Medi­cine’ theme, and investments include genome sequencing using UK Biobank volunteers, and a network of up to six Centres of Excellence in digital pathology and imaging, including radiology.

According to the Health Data Research UK, the hubs will com­plement other initiatives across the UK, including the NHS’ Local Health and Care Record Exemplar programme, which is joining up local health and care data for individual care and planning purposes, and the work of NHS Digital to create a Data Services Platform.