Data and Analytics in the Healthcare sector

Health industries (healthcare, pharmaceuticals and life sciences) are relentless producers of data. To put it into perspective, the human body contains nearly 150tr gigabytes of information. That’s the equivalent of 75bn fully-loaded 16GB Apple iPads, which would fill the entire area of Wembley Stadium to the brim 41 times. Imagine collecting that kind of data for an entire population.

The vast amount of data generated and collected by a multitude of stakeholders in healthcare comes in so many different forms — insurance claims, physician notes, medical records, medical images, pharmaceutical R&D, conversations about health in social media, and information from wearables and other monitoring devices.

According to the CEBR report Data Equity – Unlocking the Value of Big Data, the use of data analytics across the healthcare sector could deliver additional revenues of £14bn from 2012 to 2017. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is well positioned to take advantage of data analytics because the personal data that can risk score every NHS patient already exists and it is already far more centralised and normalised than in other countries.

The power to access and analyse enormous data sets can improve our ability to anticipate and treat illnesses. This data can help recognize individuals who are at risk for serious health problems. The ability to use big data to identify waste in the healthcare system can also lower the cost of healthcare across the board.


At PwC, we use data and analytics to help organisations in the healthcare sector to:

  • Generate new knowledge using predictive analytics
  • Analyse patient data in real-time using Big Data platform Hadoop
  • Predict where emergency services are most likely to be needed
  • Optimise care for patient populations
  • Reduce the cost of care

Case study – Event simulation model for an NHS Foundation Trust

Our client, a high performing NHS Foundation Trust, was building a new ward block and needed to understand its current bed usage.

Using patient admission and treatment data and ward size and use constraints we built a discrete event simulation to model the varying demand for the different wards. Capturing the natural variability in emergency patient admissions helped demonstrate the delicate balance between optimising activity and maintaining spare capacity.

Our client adopted our solution which helped them with planning for the significant increase in admissions expected during winter.

Case study – Dashboards for improving patient care in the NHS

Our client wanted us to assess its possible capital requirements over the next five years and consider the capital impact of several key strategic options.

It had been suffering from an ageing data warehouse, fed by hundreds of separate clinical systems. The bulk of internal reporting has been confined to circulating large Microsoft® Excel® spreadsheets via email.

Our client wanted to enable its data users to analyse often large, complex datasets, where it was convenient for them – at their desk, in clinic or on the move. It needed to change its internal reporting process to become faster, more flexible and mobile-friendly.

PwC supported the client’s objectives by implementing a trust-wide QlikView reporting system, with an integrated suite of user-friendly dashboards. These dashboards substantially improved the user’s access to information, including via mobile devices, and provided more up to date reporting, including automated data refreshes.

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