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BC Platforms: Accelerating Trusted Collaboration, From Data to Health

BC Platforms: Accelerating Trusted Collaboration, From Data to Health

BC Platforms and its powerful data solutions are focused on solving challenges in relation to unmet medical needs and improving patient outcomes by unlocking the true potential of health data. It is a trusted advisor to a global network of leading researchers, biobanks, developers, and industry partners, including a long-term collaboration with the University of Nottingham and Health Data Research UK.

BC Platforms has collaborated with the UK-based University of Nottingham since 2017, applying deep experience, knowledge, and technical solutions to make data more findable for life sciences research. Together, they have strived to remove barriers and respond to researchers’ needs to deliver actionable evidence that improves patient care and drug development.

In 2020, BC Platforms and the University of Nottingham announced the launch of ATLAS, an advanced data discovery tool in collaboration with, and funded by, Health Data Research UK (HDR UK). To deliver standardised and systematic data-discovery safely and securely across the UK biobanking ecosystem, BC Platforms adapted their federated data-discovery technology. Through its co-development with HDR UK and other partners, the platform offered open APIs and open standards, supporting collaborative development that any accredited party could utilise and reimplement, standardising datasets and streamlining the researcher journey to securely analysing COVID-19 data. 

In 2020, responding to researchers’ needs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Nottingham along with the Universities of Dundee and Edinburgh and the UK Health Security Agency co-led the launch of COVID-Curated and Open aNalysis aNd rEsearCh plaTform (CO-CONNECT), powered by BC Platforms’ technology. The CO-CONNECT platform helped scientists across the UK discover the data they needed more easily, to accelerate the research journey. The project was funded by the UK’s Medical Research Council (part of UK Research and Innovation) and the National Institutes of Health Research’s Department of Health and Social Care and ran between October 2020 to October 2022.

CO-CONNECT built upon the trusted collaboration between the University of Nottingham and BC Platforms to embed the BC Platforms RQUEST.com software within the Health Data Research Innovation Gateway. The software was launched as the Cohort Discovery tool and offers a web portal that approved researchers can login to and run cohort discovery questions, enabling researchers to determine how many patient records within various UK datasets meet their research criteria, for example, the number of females with asthma and a COVID-19 diagnosis. The aim was to improve understanding of the anonymous data available for research prior to submitting data governance applications and hence streamline the research journey. Only aggregate count data can be viewed on this platform, ensuring there is no risk to patient privacy. 

 The CO-CONNECT project worked with over 30 different organisations to connect 16 different COVID-19 data sources to the Cohort Discovery tool and to date enables queries on deidentified data from >5.2 million patient records from across the UK. The underpinning data stays within the control of each organisation hosting data, connecting to the Cohort Discovery tool via the BC|Link software within their infrastructure. The Cohort Discovery tool enables federated queries across standardised data utilising the Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership (OMOP) Common Data Model, enabling safe, secure, GDPR-compliant data discovery.

HDR UK has continued to support the Cohort Discovery tool following the end of the CO-CONNECT project and are now in the process of connecting many more datasets to the tool, enhancing researchers’ capability to search for data from other disease areas in addition to COVID-19. For example, Alleviate, the Advanced Pain Discovery Platform (APDP) Data Hub is connecting pain related datasets and have recently added a further three data sources to the tool. In addition, NHS England’s Data for Research and Development Programme recently announced that they will be utilising the Cohort Discovery tool for the NHS Research Secure Data Environment Network and that the network has agreed to adopt OMOP.

HDR UK are currently collaborating with BC Platforms to research and develop ways to utilise the infrastructure put in place through the CO-CONNECT project to support federated research projects as well as data discovery. For example, the Alleviate Pain Data Hub is working towards enhancing the Cohort Discovery tool within the Gateway to utilise the BC Platforms functionality of performing federated Genomic Data Analysis. The research also encompasses how the OMOP Common Data Model can be used to support Cohort Discovery and different types of federated research projects along with how to standardise federated research projects to support an ecosystem of tools. 

“Based on early support and software expertise from BC Platforms, and the acceleration from working with HDR UK to develop ATLAS, CO-CONNECT and Cohort Discovery, these platforms provide secure access to the UK’s health data resources, removing barriers between datasets and accelerating the journey to carry out impactful research.” Dr Philip Quinlan, Director of Health Informatics at the University of Nottingham

BC Platforms is dedicated to enabling safe and secure data-driven collaboration, with software proven to exceed the most stringent global data privacy and security standards. Its collaboration-optimised infrastructure ensures that healthcare organisations can securely share anonymous data with researchers globally while adhering to local regulatory and privacy requirements. BC Platforms has a proven track record of helping organisations to make the most of their data. 

By working together, BC Platforms and its internationally-renowned partners are helping to build a strong foundation to accelerate research and improve patient outcomes – using evidence to accelerate personalised healthcare and drug discovery, from data to health.