The Basque Country part of a trail-blazing European project on big data in Public Health
- The MIDAS Project aims to create big-data applications in Europe shared by six health authorities:the Basque Country, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Finland and the State of Arizona (USA).
- The capital of Bizkaia hosted all the project members and the meeting was attended by representatives of the healthcare systems of the countries involved.
- Thanks to MIDAS, the health authorities will have new tools to analyse the impact of public health policies and to forecast how to tackle new epidemiological challenges, such as childhood obesity.
- It is the first project to generate technologies for the joint extraction and analysis of clinical information from multiple resources (database, apps and social media) in the field of public health.
The Basque Government’s Ministry of Health and Osakidetza [Basque Health Service), through the Basque Health Research and Innovation Foundation-BIOEF, are part of the European MIDAS project. The main objective of the project is to develop a trail-blazing big-data platform in Europe shared by six health authorities (the Basque Country, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Finland and the State of Arizona (USA)) in order to generate knowledge to help public-health decision making. At the end of the project, these new tools and the experience gained in the field of big data may be used by other healthcare systems.
The first meeting of the MIDAS consortium was held in Bilbao on Monday 6 February and was attended by all the project members. The project has been allocated EUR 4.5 million in funding by the European Commission through the European Union Framework Programme for Research and Innovation H2020 and will last 40 months. The Consortium also visited OSI Bilbao-Basurto and the Basque Biobank facilities.
Specifically, the project partners are: the heath authorities of the Basque Country, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Finland, the State of Arizona (USA); Ulster University (Northern Ireland and England), which is the coordinator; Dublin University (Ireland); the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium); Oulu University (Finland) and Arizona State University.
Technology centres, such as Vicomtech-IK4 located at the Gipuzkoa Technology Park and Teknologian Tutkimuskeskus V Tt Oy (Finland), and companies - IBM, Analytics Engined Limited and Quintelligence - are also involved.
Public health is tasked, among other functions, with preventing diseases, extending life and promoting health, by minimising damaging behaviour and harmful influences of social and environmental factors. Numerous health-related databases (records, apps, social media, etc.) are created, but they are technically difficult to “manage” and interrelate effectively given the type of information they contain.
MIDAS will be the first project to generate technologies to extract information from multiple sources for its subsequent joint analysis in order to generate knowledge for health authorities to use in public-health decision making. There is currently no platform that allows the authorities to simultaneously work with those data sources. The highest ethical and data protection standards will therefore have to be met.
Consequently, European health authorities will have new tools to analyse the impact of public health policies in the framework of different problems that affect a large part of the population, such as childhood obesity or underage drinking. They will also be able to produce forecasts to help tackle new epidemiological challenges.
INNOVATION AND RESEARCH, STRATEGIC LINE
The Basque Government’s Minister for Health, Jon Darpón, recently outlined his plans to apply the Health Innovation and Research Strategy to improve health outcomes, transform the healthcare system and contribute to the social and economic development of Basque society.
In this regard, he stressed that work would continue in this parliamentary term on activities already underway and will be completed by the deployment of the measures envisaged in the four cornerstones of the strategy: Impact, Integration, People and Resources, to achieve greater formal acceptance of R&D&I activities in the healthcare system, in coordination with universities and the biomedical industry, with the overall goal of increasing the impact of its results.
Thus, actions are already being deployed to implement an innovation management model, set up innovation and research agendas in priority clinical areas, foster cooperation with other regions and countries, etc. Furthermore, investment in R&D&I programmes will continue to rise and the activity of the Biodonostia, Biocruces and Bioaraba research institutes will continue to be consolidated, by establishing networks and cooperation groups between them and also with the university.
The the Basque Health Research and Innovation Foundation-BIOEF is the instrument set up by the Ministry of Health to foster innovation and research in the Basque healthcare system. The Foundation likewise is a framework of collaboration, cooperation and communication between the different sectors involved in health research and innovation regionally, nationally and internationally.
BIOEF helps to set up intersectoral and healthcare policies and programmes to enhance the competitiveness and quality of the healthcare system, and contribute to generating wealth and the socio-economic development of the Basque Country.
Bilbao, 6 February 2017