Can Data Analytics Help Save the Next Baby P?

If you were living in England in 2007, you probably remember the tragic death of Baby P.

Little Peter Connelly, age 17 months, died that year after sustaining more than 50 injuries over eight months at the hands of his caregivers. Despite numerous encounters with the healthcare and social care systems, Peter fell through the cracks. He died before anyone recognized the pattern of his injuries and intervened successfully to save him.

Peter’s death epitomizes the question that plagues case workers and clinicians around the world: How can I prevent the next Baby P? With heavy caseloads and many organizations involved, how can conscientious clinicians and caseworkers - whether they work with children, the frail elderly, victims of domestic violence, or other vulnerable individuals - assess each client’s life and health, identify clients who are at greatest risk, and get the right resources to them at the right time?

To accomplish this, clinicians and case workers need a comprehensive picture of the client’s encounters with diverse agencies. Oftentimes, valuable information is housed in clinical case notes and incompatible record-keeping silos, leaving care providers with only a partial view of the client’s health situation.

Now, there’s technology that can help. The North East London National Health Service (NHS) Foundation Trust (NELFT) recently worked with Intel and Santana Big Data Analytics Ltd. (Santana BDA) on a proof-of-concept project demonstrating a practical, affordable tool for extracting relevant information from large volumes of clinical case notes.

The Santana solution uses sophisticated big data analytics techniques to search through text-based clinical notes from diverse sources, such as those made by GPs, psychiatrists, community nurses, school nurses, and others. As it searches, it extracts crucial information and then presents it in a quick, easy-to-review format to authorized care professionals. Using these results, care professionals may be better able to:

  • Get value from written notes that are too voluminous for practical, timely review by humans
  • Gain a more complete understanding of the patient’s health and circumstances
  • Identify risks and prioritize caseloads to help ensure critical needs are met
  • Respond proactively rather than re-actively
  • Make better use of consultation time and conduct more focused, relevant dialogue with patients
  • Improve resource utilization through earlier intervention and potentially avoiding hospital admission

As a nurse and a former locality commissioner, I recognize just how important these technology innovations are that might help us prevent another Baby P. I invite you to read this recent paper from Intel, NELFT and Santana BDA which outlines our collective work to reduce risk and improve care.