£214k boost for innovative health data project

An innovative University of Liverpool data solution for improving health outcomes for people with epilepsy across the UK is set to receive a share of £3 million Government funding following a national competition.

The UK has some of the richest health data of anywhere in the world, yet it is fragmented, and its potential to improve lives is often untapped. To address this and demonstrate the power of data in health research to transform lives the Government is funding ‘proof of concept’ initiatives, led by Health Data Research UK. These will inform the creation of a UK-wide infrastructure that securely and safely connects health data research and innovation.

Epilepsy is estimated to affect more than 500,000 people in the UK. It affects people of any age and around a third of people with epilepsy continue to have seizures despite treatment, which has a major impact on quality of life, education and employment opportunities, and causes significant stigma. Following a seizure paramedics will often convey people to hospital as they do not have access to information held in medical records including confirmation of diagnosis, next of kin or place of safety.

Among the ten innovations being funded is a University of Liverpool led solution to improving outcomes for patients with epilepsy and reducing unnecessary admissions to A&E. The system will connect data from GPs, hospitals and ambulance services making it available to paramedics and A&E staff when they are called to patients requiring urgent care.

Professor of Neurology Tony Marson, from the University’s Institute of Translational Medicine will lead the initiative. He also leads the Liverpool Epilepsy Research Group and is also Director of the UK Epilepsy Research Network; Deputy Director of the MRC North West Hub for Trials Methodology Research; Coordinating Editor of the Cochrane Epilepsy Group; and leads the National Audit of Seizure Management in Hospitals.

Improving lives

Each of the initiatives, known as ‘Sprint Exemplar Innovation Projects’, show how technology and data solutions can improve lives and speed up innovation in the NHS and UK life sciences. They bring together expertise from academia, healthcare and large and small industry partners to deliver greater benefits that organisations can achieve alone. They will use data responsibly and ethically for research that has the potential to transform our understanding of disease.

The initiatives will build on best practice and will inform the future delivery of a UK-wide infrastructure for health data research and innovation. This is the first step in creating ‘Digital Innovation Hubs’ across the UK to securely and safely connect data from the NHS with genomic data and other molecular data for research. Led by Health Data Research UK – the national institute for health data science – this will unlock opportunities for scientific discovery and support the development of future treatments, increase our understanding of disease, enhance health services and ultimately improve the way we are able to prevent, detect and diagnose diseases such as cancer, heart disease and asthma.

This ambitious initiative is funded by UK Research and Innovation as part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and will pave the way for NHS, academic researchers and industry innovators to harness scientific knowledge and emerging technologies to develop new drugs and devices and improve health services.

Digital innovation in healthcare

Professor Marson, said: “This is great opportunity to show what can be achieved by partners working together in Liverpool, making data available at the point of need to improve outcomes and efficiency. Whilst this project focusses on epilepsy, the learning will be scalable across healthcare.”

Professor Andrew Morris, Director of Health Data Research UK, said: “These 10 projects from across the UK, all led by clinicians working with researchers and industry partners, will demonstrate how the trustworthy use of health data and technology can improve patient pathways, make ground-breaking discoveries quicker and put the patient in charge.

“We are very excited about bringing these digital projects together with public participation and support so that health data research is brought to life at scale, demonstrating public and patient benefit of digital innovation in healthcare.”

For more information about the epilepsy initiative, please contact a.g.marson@liv.ac.uk

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