Unlocking the Power of the NHS Federated Data Platform for Environmental Sustainability and Public Health

Posted: 17th April 2024

Source: (15) Unlocking the Power of the NHS Federated Data Platform for Environmental Sustainability and Public Health | LinkedIn

The National Health Service (NHS) is sitting on a treasure trove of data that could be harnessed to drive both environmental sustainability and public health improvements. As the NHS faces increasing pressure to reduce its carbon footprint and promote population wellbeing, it is time to explore how the vast datasets at our disposal can be leveraged to achieve these goals. The NHS Federated Data Platform (FDP) offers a unique opportunity to do just that, enabling us to securely analyse data at an unprecedented scale.

One promising area is the analysis of anonymised patient records and prescribing data. By examining patterns in medication usage across the NHS through the FDP, we can identify opportunities to optimise the use of drugs with lower environmental impact. For instance, certain types of inhalers used to treat asthma and COPD have a significantly higher carbon footprint than others. Analysing prescribing data at a national level via the FDP could help us target interventions to shift prescribing habits towards more eco-friendly options, reducing greenhouse gas emissions without compromising patient care.

Moreover, the FDP could enable us to link patient record data with environmental datasets, yielding valuable insights into the health impacts of environmental factors such as air pollution, extreme weather events, and access to green spaces. By analysing this data at scale, we can build a clearer picture of how our environment affects the health of different communities across the country. These insights could inform targeted public health interventions and strengthen the case for policies that promote sustainable, healthy environments.

The FDP also offers exciting possibilities for analysing hospital energy usage data. By aggregating and comparing energy consumption patterns across NHS facilities and departments, we can identify best practices and opportunities for efficiency gains. Predictive analytics run on the FDP could even be used to forecast energy demand, enabling hospitals to optimize their use of clean energy sources.

Of course, leveraging the FDP for environmental and public health goals is not without its challenges. Robust data governance frameworks must be put in place to ensure the privacy and security of sensitive patient information. Data quality and standardisation issues will need to be addressed to enable meaningful analysis across regional boundaries. And there will be a need for close collaboration between data analysts, clinicians, sustainability experts, and public health professionals to translate data insights into actionable strategies.

But the potential benefits are immense. By harnessing the power of NHS data through the FDP, we can drive evidence-based decision making that simultaneously reduces the health system’s environmental footprint and improves population health outcomes. It’s an opportunity we can’t afford to miss as we work towards a more sustainable, healthier future for all.

As NHS organisations we should leverage the FDP for these critical purposes. By doing so, we can not only lead by example in the health sector, but also contribute meaningful insights to the wider societal effort to combat climate change and promote wellbeing. The FDP gives us the tools to unlock the power of NHS data for the good of our environment and our communities – now it’s up to us to seize this opportunity.

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