Birmingham's expertise lauded in national health data report

The University of Birmingham has contributed to the publication of a major report into the UK health data landscape.

In the wake of the Prime Minister’s health-focused Industrial Strategy speech, the University of Birmingham has welcomed the publication of a major report into the UK health data landscape – to which it contributed to as a founder member of Health Data Research UK (HDR UK).   

The report – Mapping the Landscape of UK Health Data Research and Innovation – has been published by the Medical Research Council to highlight informatics achievement to date and encourage collaboration in the sector. 

Highlighting the University of Birmingham’s strong research capabilities in biomedical and health informatics research, the report also cites its links with University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHBFT) as critical in developing a leading integrated health data network. Together with Birmingham Women's and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, the organisations form Birmingham Health Partners, which brings clinical and academic expertise together to translate informatics into relevant treatments, devices and diagnostics. 

Aiming to highlight the impact of investment into health data research, the report referenced a number of developments which showcase both the individual and combined health data excellence of the Birmingham Health Partners, including:

  • UHBFT’s status as an Global Digital Exemplar, one of 13 Trusts spearheading the NHS’s Digital Revolution
  • A leading role in the nationwide 100,000 Genomes Project, which collects and analyses health data, in the future, treat cancers and rare diseases more effectively through the West Midlands Genomic Medicine Centre
  • Qualifications, including an MSc in Bioinformatics and MSc in Health Research Methods, as well as extensive CPD and postgraduate certificate courses
  • The Prescribing Information & Communication System (PICS), in use for more than 10 years and providing a series of rich datasets available for use in research
  • Recipient of the MRC’s Clinical Infrastructure Award for deep immunophenotyping of patients for molecular study 

Professor Simon Ball, Director of Digital Healthcare at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust and HDR UK Midlands Site Director, commented: “Health data is high on the news agenda, because its use can improve healthcare delivery to an individual and can support the development of treatments, devices and diagnostic tests. The benefits of using health data in this way has been clearly identified in the government’s Industrial Strategy. This report highlights that a significant amount of work is already undertaken across the nation and suggests how we might approach accelerating the translation of these benefits.” 

Professor David Adams, Head of the College of Medical and Dental Sciences and Dean of Medicine at the University of Birmingham, added: “This report makes clear that health data can only be used to its greatest effect if there is strong integration between clinicians, academics and industry. In Birmingham, we achieve this through Birmingham Health Partners. Together we are using health data to accelerate discoveries from the lab to the patient, for the benefit of all.” 

As a regional driving force behind the implementation of the government’s life sciences Industrial Strategy, Birmingham Health Partners works closely with the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network, forming the basis of a vibrant health data ecosystem. It also cultivates strong relationships with Global Digital Exemplars in the Midlands to implement health data strategies. 

The University of Birmingham is one of four Midlands-based institutions forming part of HDR UK, together with the Universities of Leicester, Nottingham and Warwick.

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