Rory Cellan-Jones writes about INSIGHT in his health tech blog
What is INSIGHT?
We are an NHS-led initiative set up to make routinely collected eye data available for approved health research. Our aim is to improve healthcare by making it simpler for researchers to use large, anonymised sets of patient data in a safe and ethical way.
INSIGHT is led by Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust working in partnership with University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust. INSIGHT is built around our 'North Star' – a guiding principle for delivering benefit to patients and wider society through improving safe, efficient and ethical access to eye health data for research.
The INSIGHT Health Data Research Hub:
Makes anonymised eye data available for research that is intended to benefit patients.
Is focused on eye health, but could lead to breakthroughs in a wide range of conditions, including diabetes and dementia.
Is committed to putting patients and the public first
Applies the highest standards of ethics, transparency and safety to everything it does.
Together with our partners from the NHS, we are working with researchers from academia, industry and charity sectors, to transform the way diseases are diagnosed, treated and managed in the UK and beyond.
A Quick Overview of INSIGHT
In the short film below, members of the INSIGHT team explain why the hub was established.
A transcript is available here (PDF, 85 KB)
Where does INSIGHT data come from?
Across the NHS as a whole, 25 million images of the eye are created every year, representing an unrivalled resource for research using techniques like machine learning.
The data available through INSIGHT currently comes from two NHS foundation trusts: Moorfields Eye Hospital and University Hospitals Birmingham. It has been routinely collected from thousands of patients over many years, and forms some of the largest eye datasets in the world. You can find details of the data available through INSIGHT in our Researcher Area.
Before the datasets are made available for research, all identifying information (for example, names and addresses) is removed. Data from patients who have opted out of sharing their health data for research purposes is also removed.
How does INSIGHT benefit patients?
INSIGHT's datasets are unprecedented in their size and quality, allowing researchers to analyse millions of retinal images (and related health records) at speed using computers. They will be able to identify links between tiny details (which might be missed by the human eye) and a range of health conditions – from age-related macular degeneration to diabetes and dementia.
This type of cutting-edge research, using advanced techniques like machine learning and artificial intelligence (A.I.), could lead to new therapies, new tools to speed up diagnosis, and treatments tailored to individual patients (known as personalised medicine).