How we can place a value on healthcare data

EY report reveals nearly £10billion worth of savings and benefits to patients from increased use of 'big data'

Curated NHS data could generate as much as £5billion a year while delivering £4.6billion worth of benefits to patients, claims a new report.

EY Global Services’ recent publication, Realising the Value of Healthcare Data, states that increased use of ‘big data’ could lead to substantial operational savings for the NHS, enhanced patient outcomes, increased use of personalised medicine, and bring wider benefits to the UK economy.

Healthcare providers need to recognise patient data for what it is: a valuable intangible asset desired by multiple stakeholders - a treasure trove of information

And it provides a suggested framework for the NHS to harness patient data in an ethical manner, demonstrating its high value to the healthcare ecosystem, and placing the UK at the forefront of global healthcare innovation.

Pamela Spence, EY’s global health sciences and wellness and life sciences industries leader, said: “Unlocking the power of healthcare data to fuel innovation in medical research and to improve patient care is at the heart of today’s healthcare revolution.

“When curated or consolidated into a single longitudinal dataset, patient-level records will trace a complete story of a patient’s demographics, health, wellness, diagnosis, treatments, medical procedures, and outcomes.

“Healthcare providers need to recognise patient data for what it is: a valuable intangible asset desired by multiple stakeholders - a treasure trove of information.”

Among the universe of providers holding significant data assets, the NHS is the single-largest integrated healthcare provider in the world and its patient records cover the entire UK population from birth to death.

The NHS, through its analysis of the patient-level data it holds, can unlock significant operational savings, enhanced patient outcomes, and wider economic benefits through the application of ‘big data’, artificial intelligence (AI) and personalised medicine

And EY estimates that the 55 million patient records held by the NHS today may have an indicative market value of several billion pounds to a commercial organisation.

The report states that, though all data can have value, the extent of this will vary depending on its characteristics. These can be placed into four main categories:

  • Nature (data type, availability, exclusivity, granularity and source)
  • Data quality, maturity and embedded analytic insight (is the data raw, curated, aggregated longitudinally, analysed?)
  • Complexity of data capture (open source or paid, auto-collected or not?)
  • Use/application (the data’s potential impact, limitations on its use etc)

Spence said: “We see two primary approaches to quantifying the value of data.

“A ‘top down’ or market-based approach, which estimates the value of a dataset based on its profile and on the observed market pricing of functionally comparable data asset.

“Market pricing is analysed by calculating the implied ‘per record’ valuation multiples of comparable data assets or valuation multiples of companies with significant patient data assets.

“A ‘bottom up’ or income-based approach, quantifies value based on the economic benefit to be generated from the curated dataset.

To ensure success the NHS and the UK Government will need to partner with companies that can help unlock these valuable patient insights

“Value can be expressed in terms of economic uplift – benefits to patients and the UK economy – and commercial opportunity – incremental profit or licensing income generated from a successful business deployment of insights gained from the data.”

Datasets, both digital and paper, are held by NHS data controllers, for example NHS trusts for secondary/tertiary care and by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and GPs for primary care.

There are currently around 55 million longitudinal primary care records, 23 million episodic specialty care patient records, and 100,000 DNA codes of patients with cancer, rare diseases and infectious diseases collated by Genomics England.

Spence said: “The value of these datasets increases when they are linked.

“Given the implied or observed pricing for patient data based on a detailed review of market transactions and company valuations, we can estimate ranges of market value for NHS datasets. For example, EHR/EMR data has an estimated value typically <£100 per patient record, but between £1000-£5000 per record when combined with genomic and phenotypic data. Overall, this suggests NHS patient data holds an indicative market value of several billion pounds to a commercial organisation.”

Analysis and insights generated from this unique NHS dataset can help the UK Government to achieve its health priorities on prevention, care, and costs; place the NHS and the UK at the forefront of healthcare innovation; and make the NHS the envy of the world

She added: “The NHS, through its analysis of the patient-level data it holds, can unlock significant operational savings, enhanced patient outcomes, and wider economic benefits through the application of ‘big data’, artificial intelligence (AI) and personalised medicine (PM).

“Economic analyses highlight that ‘Big Data’ will materialise first, followed by AI, and then PM last; but with potentially the most-significant long-term impact.

“We have estimated that the value to the NHS in terms of operational savings, enhanced patient outcomes, and generation of wider economic benefits to the UK could be as much as £5billion per annum and deliver around £4.6billion per annum of benefit to patients.”

The report predicts there will be significant process and technology costs associated with aggregation, cleaning, curating, hosting, analysing and protecting the transformation of these raw data records into a consolidated longitudinal patient-level dataset.

And Spence said: “To ensure success the NHS and the UK Government will need to partner with companies that can help unlock these valuable patient insights.

“Ultimately, analysis and insights generated from this unique NHS dataset can help the UK Government to achieve its health priorities on prevention, care, and costs; place the NHS and the UK at the forefront of healthcare innovation; and make the NHS the envy of the world.”

The report has been widely welcomed.

Lord Paul Drayson, chief executive of data specialist, Sensyne Health, told BBH: “Data-driven innovation will transform how healthcare is delivered in future.

“The quality and scale of NHS data, covering a population of over 50 million people from birth to death, provides the UK with a major competitive advantage and is a very-valuable national asset.

“Enlightened policy that encourages ethical and fair collaborations between the NHS and the life sciences industry that use NHS data could help to fund NHS services in future, as well as significantly improving the quality and affordability of care for patients.”

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