Enhancing Real-World Evidence Studies

At Ignite Data we’re always looking for ways to enhance real-world datasets for our client’s real-world evidence studies to better understand patient outcomes.

The NHS dataset known as Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) is a prime example of how traditional real-world evidence can be enhanced to add significant value.

What is HES?

HES is a UK dataset managed by NHS Digital and derived from UK hospital data. Check out this link for more detailed information. It’s an ongoing real-world database of UK patients in secondary-care.

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The dataset is, as the name suggests, episode data. In other words, it’s a set of events rather than a full medical record on a specific patient.

To give an example, it would tell you that Joe Bloggs attended A&E at a time and date with a set of variables to define what happened. So, Joe Bloggs could have an ICD10 code (the international standard for reporting diseases and health conditions) which tells us he’s broken his leg and some additional variables to indicate the method by which he arrived at hospital (i.e. in an ambulance!).

The dataset is a very powerful real-world data asset for enhancing real-world studies in the UK.

Where are the weaknesses in HES as a Real-World dataset?

The weakness of the dataset when asking questions is the lack of an end-to-end journey and full patient history.

The anonymised version of this database is aggregated to protect patient identities. So, for example we could complete counts on ICD10 codes and gain all sorts of insights, but we cannot:

  • Identify a patients first diagnosis date
  • Identify the historic prescribing which has managed their condition
  • How the patient has accessed different care
  • Identify a patient’s comorbidities

…the list goes on.

As far as real-world evidence generation goes, for certain types of projects HES on its own is great, but if we can bolt on other critical information about patients we can answer much more complex questions.

Ignite Data’s approach to enhancing the real-world evidence delivery

Ignite Data are working with pharmaceutical organisations to produce bespoke real-world evidence studies using the real-world data contained in HES by linking it to other consented patient data.

HES’s limitations can be mitigated with this approach as we’re able to work with NHS Digital to combine this Real-World Data to other items, such as a patient’s primary-care medical record or a PROM/questionnaire they’ve completed.

We have extensive expertise in the complex application processes, ICF creation and of course the critical point of being able to pseudonymise the information ready for analysis. Our skilled data experts will guide you through this entire process.

As a final note, we’ve wrapped all Real-World Data services in ISO27001 and NHS IG Toolkit (changing to Data Security and Protection Toolkit) to ensure data security is paramount.

If you enjoyed this article you may also want to read our article on Applying for UK Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) and Recent History to enhance your knowledge.

By Richard Yeatman, Chief Operations Officer at Ignite Data