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The QCovid®-powered COVID-19 Population Risk Assessment, developed by a cross-organisational team and rolled across NHS England, has won the Florence Nightingale Award for Excellence in Healthcare Data Analytics.

Mobile Phone Or Smartphone Screenshot NHS Guidance On Shielding Covid-19 Vulnerable People © Shutterstock

Awarded jointly by the Health Foundation and the Royal Statistical Society, the Florence Nightingale Award recognises practitioners in applied health care analytics who have gone the extra mile in delivering innovative improvements for the health care system.

This year's award has been given to the COVID-19 Population Risk Assessment team, made up of members from across the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS Digital, NHS England, the Office for National Statistics, Public Health England, University of Oxford, NERVTAG, Oxford University Innovation, and the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication.

QCovid®, an evidence-based risk prediction model, was produced by the team and led at the University of Oxford by Professor Julia Hippisley-Cox in 2020 after the Chief Medical Officer for England tasked a group of academics and clinicians with developing a tool to predict who might be at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

Funded by the National Institute for Health Research, Professor Julia Hippisley-Cox and colleagues in the department's Primary Care Epidemiology Group studied the anonymised health records of more than 8 million people using GP records from the QResearch database, hospital records and mortality data. The analysis revealed several risk factors, including age, ethnicity, gender and deprivation, which were used to create the QCovid® model. QCovid® estimates someone’s combined risk of catching coronavirus and being admitted to hospital, was designed to risk assess the general population, inform people about their risk level, and support people with decisions about behaviours in consultation with a clinician.

The model was incorporated into a national COVID-19 Population Risk Assessment and has since been rolled out to every adult in England. The risk assessment has been running regularly since March 2021 and ensures that at-risk adults in England can be identified, prioritised for COVID-19 vaccination and added to the national ‘Shielded Patients List’.

Adam Steventon, Director of Data Analytics at the Health Foundation, said: ‘The pandemic continues to highlight the critical role that data and analytics increasingly play in protecting and improving the health of everybody in our society. The COVID19 Population Risk Assessment team’s work powerfully demonstrates that high quality analytics can make a real difference to patients' lives on a national scale. The level of collaboration, careful navigation of obstacles and the focus on addressing health inequalities on this project are outstanding.’

Stian Westlake, Chief Executive of the Royal Statistical Society, added: ‘Healthcare data analysts across the UK have risen to the numerous challenges and obstacles brought by the COVID-19 pandemic – working responsively, collaboratively and openly together. Congratulations to the winners who have really shown how their work can make a difference to patient outcomes.’

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