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Data in a Day – Mark Barrett and GP Ratings App

April 25, 2013 by in Data in a Day, with no comments

As part of Data in a Day, Mark Barrett reveals how a trip to his local doctors surgery with his young son resulted in him mining 42 million pieces of patient information to produce a GP ratings app. Below Mark tells us a story that summarises the opportunities that Big Data presents for us to explore, create and provide information to others in an easy to understand format.

The real power of using Open Data comes when you use it with other Open Data to create something that others can understand.

Last year the Government published the Open Data white paper that has had a huge impact on the way Government departments operate. The paper set out four key objectives:

  1. Make it easier for public to access public data
  2. Make it easier for publishers to release data in standardised open formats
  3. Move to a presumption to publish
  4. Have a developer engagement strategy

Working at the HSCIC, I can see the impact of the paper as we surface thousands of indicators that the public can use. The paper clearly had an impact on other departments too as there is now an emerging market of developers and organisations who are creating companies to provide a greater insight into a country where data is more freely available.

So, with thousands of datasets which ones do you use and what do you make? A few years ago I watched a fantastic talk by John Cleese that really resonated with me. He talks about creativity (“Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating”) and goes on to define how to be creative:

  1. Identify your specialism
  2. Gather raw data
  3. Digest the material
  4. Unconscious processing
  5. The eureka moment
  6. Ideas meet reality

I myself used this methodology to create my own Open Data app, GP Ratings. It uses 42 million pieces of patient feedback and patient outcomes so people can make an informed choice about which GP Surgery to register with. It was born out of frustration from receiving what we thought was a poor service for our young son. Trawling through lots of spreadsheets, the data was converted to star ratings so it was understandable and then turned it into a app so others could find the highest regarded surgeries in their local area. With an average of 5,000 ratings per surgery people can understand big data in a way that’s familiar.

What’s quickly become apparent from the events we’ve set up is that as well as Health, there are a lot of other communities in Leeds. The fun bit is going to be when we all come together and show other cities what can be achieved when you collaborate…

So what does Big Data mean to me? Big Data provides opportunities to make things for others so they can understand what’s happening in their local area. I’m proud to be a small part of it.

What does data mean to you? How do you use it? How do you think it changes the community in which we live? We’re exploring these questions as part of Data in a Day – a virtual time capsule as part of Big Data Week 2013. Want to be involved? Drop us a tweet using the hashtag #datainaday #bdw13 to join the conversation.

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