NCA’s cutting edge Data Science Team is first of its kind in the North

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NCA’s cutting edge Data Science Team is first of its kind in the North
02 September 2019

THE Northern Care Alliance NHS Group (NCA) has introduced a new cutting edge Data Science Team to help improve patient care, the first team in the North of England, and one of only a handful of teams in the country.

Patients and the public will benefit from the team’s work, which revolutionises how hospitals prioritise, deploy resources, make clinical decisions, and how they will use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to support the delivery of healthcare in the future.

The team is helping the NCA move towards using machine learning and algorithms to support doctors, nurses, midwives and managers to make better informed decisions.

Emma Wright, Director of Information and Business Intelligence at the NCA said:

“Ensuring that our clinicians have the best possible tools and insights will support their clinical knowledge and experience to help ensure better outcomes for our patients.”

The team was set up to harness the power of the NCA’s data and look at new technologies and new ways of thinking.

Emma added:

“Data is arguably the most valuable commodity in the world at the moment, with the NHS sitting on one of the most lucrative and expansive seams of data. It is imperative that we learn how to harness it ethically for the benefit of our patients, doctors, nurses and midwives.”

One of the team’s biggest achievements so far is the accuracy of a new predictive modelling system that is used to manage A&E patient readmissions.

This model predicts both the number of attendances per day at A&E and the number of emergency admissions from A&E.

The team is also currently working on machine learning models, text mining, risk stratification and collaborative work streams with NHS and educational partners.

The long term aim of the team is to ensure the NCA has the best possible tools to serve its patients.

About the team

The Data Science Team forms part of the analytics service within the NCA Informatics Team. The team was established two and a half years ago, as part of the Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) Programme.

There is a manager, three full time data scientists and three Masters students on placement as part of a partnership with the University of Salford.

They are based at Turnpike House in Salford and support the NCA’s four Care Organisations in Salford, Oldham, Bury & Rochdale and North Manchester. The NCA brings together the Salford Royal and Pennine Acute trusts, employing over 19,000 staff.

Despite being newly formed, the team is already highly-regarded in the region and nationally, and has completed a number of showcase presentations and journal articles about innovative GDE programme projects.

What is data science?

Data science is a multidisciplinary blend of data inference, algorithm development and machine learning, utilising raw structured and unstructured data in order to solve analytically complex business problems.

The data science process involves identifying questions to be answered or problems to be solved, and performing literature reviews within the associated area.

The next step is to explore the available data and develop mathematical models to understand the significance of the data and enable predictions to be made.