On the 6 February 2017, the RSS Merseyside local group hosted an afternoon session introducing the Connected Health Cities initiative (see www.connectedhealthcities.org). There were 36 people attending, around a third of whom were RSS members. As usual the majority of attendees were from a range of departments at the University of Liverpool. In addition, there were also attendees from HMRC, the Health and Safety Executive, Leeds Beckett and Leeds Universities, Liverpool Health Partners and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
The afternoon began with an overview of the Connected Health Cities (CHC) initiative from Dr Keith Bodger. This talk introduced the attendees to the initiative, and covered the project aims and clinical applications. The overall aim of the initiative was defined as making better use of health data. The talk started by noting that whilst randomised control trials (RCTs) are vital, observational data, such as data routinely collected in healthcare, is also a valuable resource although inherent issues exist with the data. The term 'Learning Healthcare Systems' was introduced, where data collection is built into the healthcare system itself, and the resulting information is rapidly analysed and fed back into care.
Problems were noted in the standardisation of information, in that data recording can differ between departments in hospitals as well as across regions of the UK. Additionally patient concerns regarding data sharing were covered. The audience were introduced to part of the Connected Health Cities initiative implemented in Merseyside and surrounding areas, which aimed harness the power of data in healthcare through learning healthcare systems, to bring together expertise in the North West coast to improve data collection and to make data and analyses available to those delivering the care. The two clinical themes for the North West Coast were described, namely alcohol misuse, and unplanned care (eg unplanned admittances to hospitals) for conditions such as epilepsy.
Overall, the talk noted the increasing interest in real world data over recent years, and that the technology existed to collected and make use of the data, but that it had not yet been implemented into the NHS. The Connected Health Cities Initiative aimed to start that process, by making better use of the real world data currently available, and by improving the use of routine data collected in healthcare.
After a tea and coffee break, the afternoon resumed with a talk from Dr Duncan Appelbe. Following on from the first talk, the second session focussed on the infrastructure of the project, namely how the project aimed to store, protect and analyse the data collected. The need to futureproof the project was highlighted, specifically bearing in mind what the data systems and the project would need to be capable of now as well as in the future to remain useful and relevant. Data security was discussed, including procedures to ensure that the data was kept in the secure repository, and accessible only by those with permission whilst ensuring that it could be analysed by a range of statistical software. Planned development of algorithms to automatically clean data were described, to help the process of including future data in the repository.
A question and answer session concluded the afternoon. Questions raised related to over-cleaning of the data, missing data, patient involvement with the project, and possible future extensions.
The next meeting of the RSS Merseyside local group will take place in June, and is titled Anticipating Extreme Events. We look forward to inviting speakers on exciting topics linking statistics and volcanoes or flooding. Further details of this, and all future talks, are available on the Merseyside local group website: https://sites.google.com/site/rssmerseyside/.