As the NHS continues to deal with the pandemic, there is also huge pressure to find better, and more efficient, ways to deliver care and reduce backlogs, and to target health services and prevention activities at the groups who are most in need. Tackling these challenges will require the NHS to make use of all the tools at its disposal.
Data and data-driven innovation could be a part of the solution. A number of strategies (the data strategy for health and social care, the national AI strategy for health and adult social care) and legislative changes (the Health and Care Bill) seek to deliver the platform for such an approach. The Wade-Gery review has also resulted in significant reorganisation to support the transformation of health and care.
In this long read, we first consider the contribution that routine health data can make to addressing some of the challenges faced. We then move on to examine the longstanding barriers to widespread use of data and data science, and what approaches might help to overcome these. Finally, we explore whether the data strategy will provide much-needed coherence to this area.