Open Health Data Powers Healthy Access by Toothpick
This month sees the launch of Healthy Access, an open data project by Toothpick.com, offering a score for over 300 areas in England based on access to health services.
The new service was developed in collaboration with the Digital Catapult. Through its Digital Catapult Centre, it was able to provide Toothpick with access to data scientists who could collate and turn open data into a manageable dataset. The two organisations worked together over several months to develop a scoring system for each local authority in England.
Why Healthy Access?
Healthy Access provides a gauge on the relative ease of living a healthy life in different parts of England. We launched the project with the knowledge that prevention is key to solving our future health crisis, and that individuals making the right health decisions depend on the right services being available.
In its first phase, Healthy Access takes into account access to dentists, access to GPs, quality of hospitals, walking and cycling behaviour, and access to green space. Our aim for the project is to provide a simple to use platform where local citizens can comment, reflect and influence decision makers in order to make sure that their local area offers the right provisions for them to stay healthy.
Healthy Access builds on a foundation of open available health data, with commercial enterprise level data layered in to complement the picture.
During our journey in building Toothpick, we have come across some pervasive problems with access in UK healthcare. In 2014 we surveyed a thousand dental practices and only 10 per cent had NHS appointments available in the next seven days. Meanwhile we frequently come across disturbing open data such as the recent finding that the main reason children are admitted to hospital today is tooth decay. Uncovering this type of data has strengthened our resolve to help collate and visualise this kind of data – to inform, stir debate and provide a hub for these conversations to take place.
Data has been a hot topic in the health and digital health space for some time. We are now truly in the age of BIG data, which has become invaluable in helping organisations shape the future of healthcare. Data is no longer only an asset for the enterprise grade multi-national. In fact, as in Toothpick’s case as a data-led digital SME, we have collected the most comprehensive set of consumer and real-time dental data in the industry by monitoring our products over a four-year period. We know many other digital SMEs doing the same thing.
As well as being a visualisation of Open Data, Healthy Access is therefore also a platform for data-led organisations to partner with us and bring their expertise to the table. On the dentistry side we will incorporate a true real-time indicator of supply and demand data for each region, using our real-time feeds for over 3500 dentists in the UK and search behaviour data on Toothpick. DrDoctor has provided us with great data on access to hospitals. Patient.co.uk will provide us trending healthcare topics per area, allowing us to paint a broader picture around a particular score.
We are now urging local authorities and like-minded organisations to get involved by becoming content partners and displaying their local scores on their websites. We want to empower local organisations to use big data to enforce change. Anyone can download a banner showing their local Healthy Access Score, put it on their website and start the debate in their community.
We also welcome users to rate and comment on health in their area, giving them a forum to promote change.
“Working with Digital Catapult has allowed us to create an engaging open data application, built on solid analysis from leading data scientists, and have it beautifully visualised in an engaging and understandable format. We would encourage anyone to take the opportunity to work with them and harness the vast reserves of open data available in the UK.
Our hope is that Healthy Access will mature into a trusted platform for feeling the pulse of the state of the nation’s health. Organisations already vocalising their support include Patient.co.uk and NHS Choices, along with local boroughs and councils.”
Lotta Holmberg is Head of Marketing Communications at Toothpick. For more Toothpick news, follow them on Twitter @Toothpick. To download and display your score, go to the Healthy Access website and follow the instructions.