Wallscope and NHS Scotland: the story so far
NHS staff gathered at CodeBase in Edinburgh recently to learn more about how Wallscope’s technology could transform their working practices. As part our ongoing work with the Information Services Division (ISD) of NHS National Services Scotland, we demonstrated our product to an audience of senior staff from across the NHS.
ISD are responsible for publishing statistical information for a wide range of audiences, from their own staff to Government policy leads, clinical staff and the general public. Currently this information is published in fixed Excel spreadsheets and PDF files which can be difficult to understand and customise. Making this data accessible and presenting it quickly and efficiently, in a way that is tailored to the end user, is key.
That’s why Wallscope has been working with ISD as part of the Scottish Government’s CivTech scheme, which aims to ‘drive daring and innovation’ in the public sector. Wallscope won a place in the scheme through their response to the challenge: ‘How can we make our data publications more accessible and appealing?’
In an organisation where knowledge access presents significant issues, sustainable and lower-cost solutions are increasingly in demand. Data is often stored in spreadsheets so large the average user wouldn’t be able to open them. In addition, increasing regulation, funding pressures and an ageing UK population all create a demand for robust and insightful solutions that meet the needs of an ever-changing NHS.
Wallscope’s Dynamic Data Discovery platform has the ability to directly link topics, concepts and associations that span a vast number of sources. This significantly reduces the time spent on the preparation and distribution of information – and makes the data presented more meaningful, accessible and relevant to the end user.
So how does this work in practice?
We have developed a metadata level which dynamically connects different data stores.
In the initial stages of this work we integrated NHS prescription data with the British National Formulary (BNF) – a pharmaceutical reference book that contains a wide spectrum of information on prescribed drugs – and workforce data. This included information on GP practices, doctors, nurses and health boards. We then used geodata to build heatmaps for health boards across Scotland, which provide real-time visualisations of the data (pictured right).
Responding to a steer from the NHS, we concentrated on anti-microbial drugs, such as antibiotics or antivirals. We can quickly give an overview of their use across Scotland, identifying when and where they are prescribed and comparing their use in different health boards. By layering different types of data we can gain new insights into the effectiveness of a particular drug, for example.
The end result
These visualisations can be presented in a custom-designed dashboard which is tailored to the end user, such as a GP, an analyst or a member of the public. Access to designated functions, features and content can be controlled using verifiable permissions – meaning that sensitive information remains secure.
As a result, published data is better presented and the user’s experience is massively improved, through enhanced search, discovery and exploration of the organisation’s information. The addition of auto-tagging and annotation increases the power of the search function and allows content expansion across an improved publishing workflow.
Quick access to more meaningful information will support decision-making and help the NHS to meet requirements related to governance and public accountability, as well as realising efficiencies in service delivery and process improvements. It will also help them provide better customer service and value for money for service users.
There are many more valuable uses of the technology that could be explored – for example integrating health and social care data, to give a clearer picture of the delivery of services across Scotland and beyond.