I am an academic consultant geriatrician working at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. My passion for working with older people has been driven by the exclusion of the oldest and often most vulnerable in society from traditional medical research. The use of routinely collected or so-called ‘big data’ has started to change this, by allowing smarter, inclusive research with quicker assessment of the effect of changing treatments on patient outcomes.
I was privileged to work on the High-STEACS and HiSTORIC trials during my PhD. These studies included data from over 80,000 consecutive Scottish patients attending hospital with suspected heart attacks. By linking across multiple databases, we were able to efficiently evaluate new blood tests and care pathways, resulting in reduced hospital time to rule out a heart attack. This is an example of using data to improve the patient journey, while also helping the NHS to deliver more efficient care.
I continue to embrace data-driven innovation in my current research activity. I am working on measuring patient frailty, using the information entered into the electronic health records of older people admitted to hospital. This automated tool has now been implemented at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, to speed up assessment and specialist care for patients at the highest risk of complications. This kind of work will be hugely enhanced by DataLoch – for the first time bringing together information from hospitals, GP surgeries and social care services in one shared resource.
DataLoch will also underpin the important ambitions of the wider DDI programme. Professionals from across the social and health care sectors recognise challenges and see opportunities in their everyday work. As clinical lead for DataLoch, I want to ensure we provide rapid access to linked data and help answer these important questions that will ultimately improve health and social care outcomes for citizens across the region.
By linking across multiple databases, we were able to efficiently evaluate new blood tests and care pathways, resulting in reduced hospital time to rule out a heart attack