Using health data to improve public health

  • The causes of poor health can be unexpected, long or short term, as well as local or global. We don’t always have the right data to know what effect a behaviour or intervention might have on public health.

    In many cases the data we need already exists in GP surgeries and hospitals; the challenge is to create the infrastructure to link it all together.

  • To develop the capability to identify the things that cause ill-health in people, as well as the factors that result in improved health – no matter where they live or what their socioeconomic background – across the whole population of the UK.

  • We will enable data science to transform public health research Through linking to data beyond health care, for example, to other government sectors, organisations, and data on environments that influence health. The people that work in these areas may not usually regard the data they produce as having a major bearing on public health, but in fact decisions made in education, housing, technology, engineering, law, fiscal policy, environmental science, planning, history and behavioural sciences all impact our health.

    By linking beyond the individual we will better evaluate risk factors, outcomes and potential for interventions that target related individuals or groups, for example, parents and children, households, neighbourhoods, and even whole countries. By enabling whole country comparisons, we will inform national policy development for the UK, improving health of all.