Health IT

Six health data advances from England that will be “bigger than the Internet”

England’s National Health System is the fifth biggest employer in the world. Who is first? The U.S. Department of Defense. The Red Army, Wal-Mart, and McDonald’s make up the rest of the list. Right Honourable Jeremy Hunt M.P. spoke at Datapalooza today and shared that number and several other surprising statistics. The United Kingdom’s Secretary […]

England’s National Health System is the fifth biggest employer in the world. Who is first? The U.S. Department of Defense. The Red Army, Wal-Mart, and McDonald’s make up the rest of the list.

Right Honourable Jeremy Hunt M.P. spoke at Datapalooza today and shared that number and several other surprising statistics. The United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Health also saluted the United State’s aspiration to universal healthcare (there was actually applause after that comment).
“Many countries around the world are making a call as to whether universal coverage should be something every country in the world aspires to, and the U.S. is leading in that now,” he said.

He drew a few parallels between healthcare challenges in America and England: aging populations and a reliance on technology. He said that the most transformational things are happening in the U.K., mostly because the country is in the third stage of technology’s transformation of health care.

He described the stages this way:

  • First stage — the power of data to be completely transformative
  • Second stage– the transactional ability to book appointments and order meds online
  • Third stage — the ability to put patients in the driver’s seat

He said that getting to the third stage has allowed these six improvements in patient care and data analysis.

  1. 50 million EHRs online: This will happen within the next year, he said, and represents the population of California and Illinois combined. “Doctors will be able to see all of your medical history in one place.”
  2. Sequencing 100,000 genomes: The plan is to concentrate on cancer and rare disease, and match genome sequencing with EMR data. “If a person has bowel cancer in his 70s and you have EMR data about what that person was doing in his 40s and 50s, you can unlock an incredible amount of information,” Hunt said. “We think this will be as significant as the founding of the Internet.”
  3. 3 million people using telemedicine: Hunt said that early results from the world’s largest study of telemedicine show that mortality has been reduced by 40 percent and ER admissions by 30 percent.
  4. Care Connect: Two pilots set to launch soon in two hospitals will ask patients directly about the healthcare services they receive.
  5. Power of the patient voice: Hunt said that in all 266 NHS hospitals, every single patient will be asked if they would recommend the facility to their friends and family. “If you ask the staff in hospitals, would they want their own friends and family to be cared for in the hospital, that is a good indicator of any problems that might be there,” he said.
  6. Massive improvements in heart surgery: Hunt said that the NHS has been publishing data on heart surgery outcomes on a risk adjusted basis. The next step is to do the same for cancer, vascular and bariatric operations. “The data will be published to ID outliers and drive up standards in clinical practice.”

Hunt closed with answers to three hard questions that he often hears about the value of data tracking and analysis.

“People ask, ‘Can we afford this?’ but doing this is the key to making good universal healthcare affordable,” he said.

To the “tech works only for the young” objection, he said never underestimate the ability of all generations to embrace the power of the Internet.

He also said some people thought the NHS should be spending money on doctors and nurses, not computers.

“Spending money on proper IT systems means nurses don’t have to spend two-thirds of their time filling out paperwork in the ER,” he said.