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How a modern data platform can transform healthcare

Two healthcare professionals discussing a patient

GIF detailing Week 9 of the q12 Weeks of Summer seriesWe’re going to be sharing a story every week for the 12 weeks of summer, showing you how healthcare organisations are using technology to transform patient outcomes and increase productivity. For the ninth blog in the series, Matt Fox explores the latest innovations in the modern data platform and how it empowers healthcare professionals. 


The modern world is fuelled by data. As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told us during this year’s Inspire conference, “90 percent of the data that we have today was created in the last two years.” It’s the key that unlocks innovation; the magic formula that transforms business growth in new and sometimes unexpected ways; the tonic that helps healthcare organisations perfect patient experiences and outcomes.

Over the past several months, we teamed up with Primary Care customers to build something exciting: a modern data platform on the Microsoft Azure Cloud service, based on our publicly available reference architecture.


What is a modern data platform?

All that data flying around is tricky for healthcare organisations to manage. Often it ends up gathering digital dust, forgotten and unseen on a server somewhere. But, in today’s healthcare sector, data must be viewed as a corporate asset.

A modern data platform is what helps organisations like NHS trusts properly store, manage, and access the data they collect. It has the ability to format data in a uniform house-style. That way, it can be viewed and analysed by those who need it, breaking down information silos across the workplace.

Think of it as a platform that brings order to chaotic, disparate systems.


What do data platforms mean for healthcare professionals?

By placing the data back into the hands of healthcare organisations, we’re seeing incredible new uses. One Commissioning Support Unit (CSU) has been able to…

Make better use of the data available

Through an efficient data platform, it’s possible to maintain publicly available data sets like population, pollution and deprivation – and create correlations between those data sets and patients’ health.


Support the creation of an evidence base

A well-run evidence base helps patients look after themselves more effectively. This is in direct support of the NHS Long Term Plan: Digital-First Primary Care, with the objective to make better use of data and digital technology.


Target specific patient cohorts

When used correctly, data analytics can be deployed on a micro-level – for instance, finding frequent A&E attendees. This lets trusts track costs and identify better pathways for these individuals that give them the help they need in a proactive manner.


How does a modern data platform benefit the NHS?

With a cloud computing solution that’s fully approved by NHS Digital to host patient data, we’re only just starting to see what’s possible for healthcare organisations.


Better patient experience

Every patient has different needs, and the technology behind a modern data platform helps those in the healthcare sector fully deliver personalised care. Hosting data in the cloud means the ability to make full use of services like machine learning. This enables individualised care planning, vastly improving the quality of patient care and outcomes.


Reduced costs

Giving NHS organisations greater control over data means trusts can budget based on what’s best for them. In a sense, it’s no different to a company using detailed business intelligence to grow: it lets leadership teams zero in on what’s working (and what’s not), where efficiencies can be made, and how to continue to improve services offered. A key technology to support this is SQL Azure Managed Instance, and last year Forrester reported on the total economic impact of this service.


Increased agility and scalability

Modern healthcare organisations need to keep pace, and sustain it. They must be ready to pivot in any direction in order to provide the best possible care. Data platforms let you become more agile and scale on your own terms, removing the barriers around capacity limits of operating in an on-premises environment.


The only question is: what is your healthcare organisation doing to create a modern data platform?



About the author

Matt Fox, Technology StrategistMatt Fox is a Technology Strategist in the Microsoft UK Healthcare team, with more than 20 years’ experience in the IT industry. During his 15 years at Microsoft he’s predominantly worked in the Public Sector. Matt is passionate about the way software can have societal impact and how citizens can engage more effectively with public services as a result. Most recently he’s been working across primary care and partnering with commissioning units to support their digital transformation strategies, especially around data.