What does Big Data offer Geriatric Medicine?

Dr Oly Todd is a registrar at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He is currently undertaking a PhD research study at the University of Leeds, funded for by the Dunhill Medical Trust investigating the association of blood pressure in older people with frailty. He will be speaking at the upcoming BGS Spring Meeting, 10-12 April in Cardiff.

In Cardiff, on Thursday 11th April 2019 at 9:30am - 11:00 am, the BGS conference is running a workshop ‘What does Big Data offer Geriatric Medicine?’ with:

  • Keynote address by one of UK’s leaders in big data, Prof. Ronan Lyons
  • UK Showcase Five ‘TED’ style talks by six UK researchers,
  • Debate ‘Big Data versus  traditional cohort studies?’ led by Dr Richard Dodds

Oly Todd explains why we’d like you to join us:

Current state of play

Evidence based medicine is largely based on clinical trials. These mostly investigate single organ problems, and are used to write single organ guidelines. Yet our patients do not come in neat packages: they are more complex; their priorities diverge; they typically have multiple conditions requiring medications that may interact; and family and social factors are significant influences upon wellbeing but often go unmeasured.

What’s the big idea?

  • Big data research brings together data which are routinely collected from health, social care and society.
  • Real world observation captures more people & more of their complexity
  • The UK is well placed for big data research:
    • primary care records have long been computerised.
    • recent robust linkage to secondary care datasets
  • Opens up opportunities:
    • for research across the course of the patient’s care.
    • to answer questions which cannot be addressed in clinical trials

Benefits of this kind of research

  • More inclusive: multi-morbidity, frailty, & those lacking capacity are not excluded
  • Includes measures used in current practice so findings have easy application
  • Data are already available, so less costly
  • Can be used to audit the effect of quality improvement strategies
  • Data cover a longer period than the typical follow up of a clinical trial.
  • Large scale allows for high statistical power
  • Easier access to data for minority groups, e.g. people with learning disabilities

Challenges of this kind of research

  • A relatively new field, with important methodological challenges to explore
  • Lack of positive outcomes: sickness and system-level measures dominate electronic ‘health’ data
  • Lack of measures of comprehensive geriatric assessment  
  • Missing data is not at random, e.g. those who are not accessing services may be at high risk of poor outcomes but will not be captured in routine data.

We need you!!

  • To overcome some of these biases, analysis needs knowledge of the people the data represents.
  • A big data community for geriatric medicine is emerging, aiming to realise the potential of these data to answer key clinical questions.

If you are interested in getting involved, or already doing something similar, please join us on April 11th.

Some examples of big data geriatric research near you:

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