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Data can drive change in NHS, says care minister

Gill Hitchock Published 08 November 2012

Norman Lamb says opening up information can help ensure mental health gets a fair share of NHS resources

Norman Lamb

Care services minister Norman Lamb has said that the publication of information can be a very powerful way of driving change in the NHS.

Lamb was responding to a delegate at the NHS Confederation's Mental Health Network conference who said that the average funding for mental health services is 13% of total NHS spending.

"You need to operate at a whole series of different levels, but we have to get more symmetry into the way the levers work in the mental health system, to ensure mental health get its fair share [of resources]," he said.

The minister also said that the NHS mandate, which will set out objectives for the NHS Commissioning Board to improve health care, will be published next week.

Speaking about "big data", Denny Morrison, the chief clinical officer at Netsmart, told the conference that it takes 17 years for information to get from research to health care practice.

He also said that analysis by IBM has shown that mining existing data resulted in a 20% decrease in mortality.

"We can have a huge impact by mining existing data as well as looking at new data in a systematic fashion," Morrison said.

He talked about IBM's Watson system, part of a new generation of cognitive computing which according to Morrison, can read and scan documents and assist clinicians in decision making.

In the US, Watson has been programmed to accept all the information about cancer treatment and it builds its own algorithms and formulations to advise clinicians, Morrison said.

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