According to Sir John Bell, rebus professor at Oxford University, Britain needs to completely revisit its data capture and management protocols if it is to compete at the very forefront of disease discovery and treatment. Affordable entire genome sequencing is on the horizon – with a process that costs just £750 and takes hours instead of weeks not too far away – but will we be ready for it when it arrives?

genome sequencing

Essential data comparison

According to professor Bell, entire genome sequencing is only useful if there is existing data to use as a basis of comparison. You can’t very well spot the tell-tale genetic code for an increased likelihood onset of testicular cancer, for example, if you don’t already know what that code is. Professor Bell has pointed out that the NHS doesn’t keep records of such standardised data here in the UK, so something like affordable entire genome sequencing – a process that has countless implications for the early warning and treatment of diseases – could be rendered effectively useless.


Professor Bell is refreshingly forthright in his assessment of the current NHS data debt: ‘People have been saying well, we can buy a machine – it’ll all be fine. Well, it won’t all be fine. There’s no informatics, there are no capabilities of proper data analysis of whole genomes, insufficient clinical informatics to make this all work and all that’s got to get fixed.’ It sounds like Britain’s healthcare professionals have got a lot of work to do if they even want to keep up with the pace of genome research and preventative treatment, let alone lead from the front, and it will be British residents who will suffer as a result.


Privacy vs. effectiveness

So, what is to be done if we are to fulfil the potential of entire genome sequencing and live in a world where diseases are presciently prevented, rather than reactively treated? Well, the answer seems to be a very simple one: we gather data. The NHS needs to act now and start collating data on the UK’s most prevalent diseases – not just data, but accurate, reliable and above all standardised data. It’s no good collating information on these diseases and illnesses if the data differs from one hospital to another, so now’s the time for companies like Document Capture co to step into the breach and provide Britain’s healthcare institutions with the data capture services they need. Take advantage of our healthcare data capture solutions to ensure that your healthcare data is accurate, dependable and consistent, whatever its application.