UTS DISHes up data science driven health solutions

General 1 April 2019

At University of Technology Sydney (UTS), rising to meet current and future health challenges required the development of a very special DISH.  The DISH (Digital Intelligence Systems for Health) network brings together UTS academics committed to transforming health systems through data science.

The network includes 26 people working across four faculties, all committed to a mission of improving health outcomes through data-driven improvements to health systems.

The industry collaborators involved are as interesting and diverse as the current and completed projects.

They range from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, to the NSW Department of Primary Industries to the United Nations Population Fund as well as various hospital and health services.

“While we have begun to bring people together through establishing the DISH network, what we are all working on varies significantly from one project to the next,” says Professor Barry Drake, Industry Professor in the School of Software.

“We have people working on emergency department data, childhood cancers, bullying, ex-prisoner health and a lot of other things.  But what we all have in common is using data to develop ways of improving health across the board.”

Some of the projects do not fit into a traditional healthcare mould.  

For example, Professor Louise Ryan and colleagues from the School of Mathematical Sciences completed a project with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to analyse data from around the world to understand what factors prevent children from thriving. The study drew on expertise from statistics, epidemiology, pharmacology and more to determine the best ways to improve children’s chances to thrive.

At the Centre for Health Technologies in the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, public health issues such as water are also under the microscope. Professor Jinyan Li has worked with the NSW Department of Primary Industries to more efficiently manage water resources and water quality by analysing a wide range of data from meteorology to population.

And Professor Drake’s own work includes a partnership with NSW Health to study data from hospital emergency departments across the state, and currently linked primary care data. Using modelling, visualisation and other data tools, Professor Drake and colleagues have found new relationships between how patients present at the hospital and the outcome of their visit.

The project team delivered software that allows exploration and visualisation of this data. Hospitals across NSW will have access to the software supporting them to deep dive into their data, enabling them to test hypotheses, run “what if” scenarios, and inform dialogue with clinicians and managers to develop solutions for improving patient outcomes.

The DISH network was formed in 2018 and Professor Drake hopes it will grow in 2019 and beyond, not only within UTS but also via connections through the Digital Health CRC (DHCRC).

“With the DHCRC we look forward to connecting even more with industry partners and health services to continue our mission of use data to improve health outcomes.”


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