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Big data and small talk: why we need both

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Alexander Fleming discovered the world’s first antibiotic 91 years ago, and medicine became a science. Austin Bradford Hill’s criteria for causal relationships between exposure and outcome 54 years ago, followed by Archie Cochrane’s call for doctors to assess the effectiveness of their treatments, paved the way for evidence-based healthcare. 8 years ago, Demis Hassabis founded the artificial intelligence company DeepMind. Artificial intelligence is likely to disrupt healthcare at least as much as the introduction of penicillin or randomised controlled trials.

At this seminar Professor Nick Steel will present research findings on the interface between data and individual patient care, and reflect on the changing role of doctors in the era of big data and AI.

About the speaker:

Nick Steel is Professor of Public Health, Head of Health Services and Primary Care Research Group Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia.

Nick’s research interests focus on preventing adverse events and improving outcomes in people with complex health problems managed in primary care. Current research projects include a study of GPs and people with multiple conditions setting goals together, measuring health in older participants in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, using the Global Burden of Disease Study in England, analysis of primary care databases (THIN and CPRD ), and primary healthcare for vulnerable adults including refugees.

After graduating from Bristol medical school, he trained in general practice in Yorkshire, Australia and New Zealand. Working as a general practitioner in the contrasting environments of urban deprivation in Wester Hailes, Edinburgh and rural North Norfolk, he became interested in the different views of patients, GPs and hospital clinicians about the balance of benefits and harms from treating raised blood pressure. He went on to train in public health and health policy at the University of Cambridge and RAND Health in California as a Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy, before returning to the ideal research population of Norfolk.

He teaches medical students and doctors in training, and supervises postgraduate students and doctors and specialists on the NHS regional public health training programme.

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This talk is part of the Bradford Hill Seminars series.

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