At Dr Foster, we have been analysing data on infection rates and vulnerability which will be a valuable source of information in the years to come. With expert analytics, AI and machine learning we can help to identify where we can protect vulnerable populations in the future.

Innovation can provide vital data to create change

The importance of technological innovation at this time has been highlighted through the TechForce19 challenge, launched by agencies including DHSC and NHSX to provide £25k in funding to 18 innovative digital solutions that can help support vulnerable people or others who may need help in the community for extended periods of time, such as mental health or pregnancy.

Technology such as telehealth and wearables provide useful data and when combined with data on cases and deaths will provide rich data which will help paint a picture of health needs in the community and identify where proactive care would be an advantage.

Population health management approaches such as this, will become vital for future healthcare, not just to identify where resources would be best placed, but also to identify and help protect vulnerable people.

We are already starting to see local data warehouses emerging, such as WSIC/Discover database. These are large linked databases derived from health and social care records which also include social care and mental health data, along with identifiable general practices and providers. A study comparing the local databases with larger databases such as the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) has shown that these smaller, yet more detailed data warehouses,  can also be a valuable research tool.

Future directions for databases like WSIC include the incorporation of data on patient-reported outcomes and telemonitoring data for example entered by patients themselves via apps or collected from them via wearable sensors and analysed by machine learning.

We need to make the most of the time we have now to identify and support these communities ahead of the next pandemic, which is inevitable.