Life sciences research given boost by new data on GP practice-level prescribing

It was only yesterday, at a CIO Summit in London, when Microsoft UK's Managing Director Michel Van der Bel announced that there are four megatrends developing in IT... mobility, cloud, social and big data. Well, an announcement today proved those words to be spot on...

Back in December 2011, the HSCIC (Health and Social Care Information Centre - previously known as the NHS Information Centre) began publishing monthly releases of practice-level data – in response to the Government's Open Data agenda.

Now it has gone one better and grown the level of detail it provides – presenting the data not just at chemical level, but now at drug presentation level too. In addition, a new data field of ‘quantity' has also been included which gives the number of tablets, capsules, millilitres etcetera that have been dispensed for each presentation.

Microsoft Partner MapCite have been working on this project - combining the MapCite visualisation tools with the Microsoft Azure hosting solution, the solution can reliably and quickly visualise the data. Essentially, MapCite have taken a huge amount of data (bigger than any spread sheet can handle) and have managed to visualise this data in a brand new, innovative way – interrogating, visualising and extracting the data from whole months and years.

"The current release of prescribing data is probably the largest open health data initiative in the world. This data will enable others to provide unique and innovative insights into the patterns of prescribing in the NHS. MapCite is a good example of what's possible when talented innovators and open data come together" says Mark Davies, Medical Director at HSCIC.

This new release means a staggering ten million rows of prescribing data will now be released each month. Music to the ears of academics, researchers, regulators and policymakers the country over.

HSCIC Chief Executive Tim Straughan said: “This new data will be a valuable resource for researchers and help their work in driving forward innovation, particularly in the field of life sciences."

The HSCIC have also announced that the publication of prescribing data (at presentation level) by GP practice from August 2010 will also take place in the near future.

To see the live interactive map, please visit

The new data can be accessed, along with background information and interpretation guidance, on the HSCIC website at:

For more information please go to the HSCIC website.

posted by Howard
Content and Communities Manager, Microsoft UK Health

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