Skip to main content
A national initiative in data science for health: an evaluation of the UK Farr Institute.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.23889/ijpds.v5i1.1128
ObjectiveTo evaluate the extent to which the inter-institutional, inter-disciplinary mobilisation of data and skills in the Farr Institute contributed to establishing the emerging field of data science for health in the UK.
Design and outcome measuresWe evaluated evidence of six domains characterising a new field of science:defining central scientific challenges,demonstrating how the central challenges might be solved,creating novel interactions among groups of scientists,training new types of experts,re-organising universities,demonstrating impacts in society.We carried out citation, network and time trend analyses of publications, and a narrative review of infrastructure, methods and tools.
SettingFour UK centres in London, North England, Scotland and Wales (23 university partners), 2013-2018.
Results1. The Farr Institute helped define a central scientific challenge publishing a research corpus, demonstrating insights from electronic health record (EHR) and administrative data at each stage of the translational cycle in 593 papers with at least one Farr Institute author affiliation on PubMed. 2. The Farr Institute offered some demonstrations of how these scientific challenges might be solved: it established the first four ISO27001 certified trusted research environments in the UK, and approved more than 1000 research users, published on 102 unique EHR and administrative data sources, although there was no clear evidence of an increase in novel, sustained record linkages. The Farr Institute established open platforms for the EHR phenotyping algorithms and validations (>70 diseases, CALIBER). Sample sizes showed some evidence of increase but remained less than 10% of the UK population in primary care-hospital care linked studies. 3.The Farr Institute created novel interactions among researchers: the co-author publication network expanded from 944 unique co-authors (based on 67 publications in the first 30 months) to 3839 unique co-authors (545 papers in the final 30 months). 4. Training expanded substantially with 3 new masters courses, training >400 people at masters, short-course and leadership level and 48 PhD students. 5. Universities reorganised with 4/5 Centres established 27 new faculty (tenured) positions, 3 new university institutes. 6. Emerging evidence of impacts included: > 3200 citations for the 10 most cited papers and Farr research informed eight practice-changing clinical guidelines and policies relevant to the health of millions of UK citizens.
ConclusionThe Farr Institute played a major role in establishing and growing the field of data science for health in the UK, with some initial evidence of benefits for health and healthcare. The Farr Institute has now expanded into Health Data Research (HDR) UK but key challenges remain including, how to network such activities internationally.
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.