Can healthcare data revolutionize the understanding of human health and disease?

According to The Farr Institute of Health Informatics Research, the answer is yes: better data science can use ‘big data’ to advance the health and care of patients and the public.

Welcome to the world of health informatics—a realm where science, industry, and healthcare work together to explore and push the potential of the exciting opportunities of digital health innovation.

Mary Brannock, our first participant in our ambassador program for tekMountain Women’s eHealth, is committed to broaden our global perspective to aid in better understanding population health and access, and in turn be able to create innovative solutions to stimulate positive change for women’s healthcare. In London, she recently met with Zisis Kozlakidis, a Virologist, employee of The Farr Institute and President of International Society for Biobanking for the National Institutes of Health.  

During the course of her meeting, Mary learned that The Farr Institute is made up of over 21 academic institutions and health partners that have come together in a UK-wide research collaboration that is committed to delivering high-quality, cutting-edge research to advance the health and care of patients, carers, communities and clinical teams—their mission is to position the UK as a world leader in health informatics research. According to their website, the institute was established in 2013 and is publically funded by a consortium of ten organisations led by the Medical Research Council.

Mary was invigorated by their strong message: if we come together, pool resources, analyse data from multiple sources and collaborate with the government, public sector, academia and industry, the Institute will unleash the value of vast sources of clinical, biological, population and environmental data for public benefit. Examples of their research power innovative research that sparks solutions that range from mhealth, mobile diagnostics programs for HIV and inventive ways to utilize electronic health data on maternal and child health.  

As it relates to Women’s eHealth, Mary delved deeper into the conversation on the Institute’s child and maternal health research project, which brings together a broad range of experts and service providers to improve understanding of the health of mothers and children and of the impact that policy and services has on their outcomes. They tap the expertise of researchers in topics ranging from child health, women’s health, family health/primary care, mental health and cardiovascular disease. A deep, informed outlook of these essential areas are imperative to understanding the life course, health and outcomes within families.

 

The Farr Institute aims to tackle multiple questions, including, ‘What are the determinants and outcomes of family health?’ Mary learned that their child and maternal health research is a government-funded initiative that’s been ongoing for 5-6 years, which connects databases with socio economic backgrounds of women and their electronic health records to see if there is a correlation.

Their research focuses on these areas:  

  • Determinants of adverse pregnancy outcome
  • Maternal determinants of adverse outcomes in childhood
  • Child mortality
  • Childhood infections
  • Chronic conditions, including mental health
  • Variation in healthcare use
  • Transitions from child to adult healthcare services
  • Growth
  • Vulnerable children and adolescents, including child maltreatment
  • Child health, education provision and school achievement

Mary learned that the findings from these specific research questions will be tremendously important to inform policy, improve clinical practice, hone methodology, and drive public and patient involvement. Zisis is committed to the fact that we all need to be working together with how quickly technology changes—maybe he will send some of his bright minds our way!

We at Women’s eHealth are dedicated to contributing to the dynamic conversation serving the wider women’s health community and the ehealth landscape. We are helping to cultivate a culture of collaboration, dialogue, and resource-sharing. United, we have the power to truly change the world by connecting with other Women’s health advocates across the globe. We invite you to join us on our website, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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