Impact Story - Using big data to drive big change

Impact Story - Using big data to drive big change

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Using big data to drive big change

From monitoring the effectiveness of surgical interventions to AI-assisted diagnostics, researchers are seeing new ways for data linkage to inform policy and clinical practice.

In 2019, the Australian Government announced free cardiovascular checks for all Australians over the age of 45.

But three years on, few patients are accessing it.

“At the moment, only about one per cent of individuals who are actually eligible are having the new Medicare-funded heart health check,” says Professor Louisa Jorm, the foundation director of the Centre for Big Data Research in Health at UNSW Sydney.

Professor Jorm and her colleagues are working on a project they hope can help predict a person’s risk of a cardiovascular event.

The research combines data from hundreds of GP practices in New South Wales with hospital and death records.

It is fed into a deep learning algorithm designed to estimate an individual’s risk of heart attack or stroke, which can be delivered back to the GP.

The tool is one of many opportunities Professor Jorm sees for data linkage in Australia.

She points to the potential to monitor the effectiveness of surgical interventions and medical devices.

Another of Professor Jorm’s projects, with colleagues from the National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit, was the first in Australia to study the proportion of births that are medically assisted.

Professor Jorm advocates for Australia to have a ‘core data spine’ of routinely-linked information such as Medicare, PBS, hospital and death records.

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