European Project Partners Meet in Belfast to Discuss Big Data and Healthcare

Photo: The MIDAS Consortium

Academics, policy makers, business people and healthcare professionals met in Belfast last week as part of the European Union Horizon 2020 MIDAS project to deliver a unified big data platform for healthcare.

The Ulster University led, Meaningful Integration of Data, Analytics and Services (MIDAS) project is developing a pioneering digital platform for healthcare policy makers that will allow them to utilise unstructured and unconnected healthcare data to better inform policy, reduce costs and improve health and wellbeing of the population.

12 months into the 40 month project, the consortium met in Belfast for their general assembly and two workshops on platform co-design and consent, ethics and data protection.

The primary goal of the MIDAS Project is to address the needs of policy makers and citizens through the delivery of a unified big data platform. To ensure the MIDAS platform provides actionable information, the technical implementation adopts a user-centred design approach, thus maximising the positive impact on health policy across Europe. As part of this participatory innovation approach, the MIDAS team held a Co-Design Workshop for consortium members, academics, business people, members of the public and healthcare staff including clinicians, policy makers and operational staff.

A further workshop on Consent, Ethics and GDPR was also held by the MIDAS consortium. Health care delivery should always be underpinned by the evidence base. With increasing complexity of data in healthcare there is an opportunity to utilise this data to drive innovation, quality and service. At its heart, MIDAS aims to create a viable model of consent and good practice that ensures data is used appropriately, meaningfully and transparently to underpin the policy cycle. This will lead to the creation of a coherent and pragmatic system that recognises and protects individual participation whilst maximising the benefit for society as a whole. The workshop was an opportunity to discuss some of the early lessons learned and findings from the project, and to gain insight from potential end users including their needs and requirements going forward with particular emphasis on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Lead researcher and overall project co-ordinator from Ulster University, Dr Michaela Black, said:

“Ulster University is at the forefront of research into big data and its potential to transform societies and economies both locally and globally. The MIDAS project is a unique opportunity to combine the vast amounts of health and wellbeing related data generated on a daily basis.

For the first time we are combining data from our healthcare systems such as waiting lists and prescription orders with data from personal devices such as daily step counts and heart rate recordings. This data will provide valuable insights into the health of a population and allow policy makers to explore health trends and design evidence-based preventative health strategies to the benefit of communities across Europe.”

The Meaningful Integration of Data, Analytics and Services (MIDAS) project was awarded over 4.5 million euros in funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme.