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ODI updates digital tool for social prescribing


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The Open Data Institute (ODI) has updated its social prescribing digital tool to include data from the latest National Census and the Department for Work and Pensions related to disability.

The Social Prescribing Flagship Tool now brings together around 120 datasets on health and social issues, on issues including obesity, activity levels and mental health, to help policy makers and those planning social prescribing services.

Users can explore the issues at a national or local authority level, or by geographic groupings, and the ODI says that in time the tool could be cross-referenced with social prescribing outcomes.

The move has been supported by the national disability charity Sense, whose head of policy, public affairs and research, Sarah White, said: “At Sense we want to see more opportunities for disabled people to get active, and so we’re glad that the Open Data Institute has updated their social prescribing tool with the latest data which will be useful for people across the social care and healthcare sectors.

“We hope this tool will inspire local and national services to increase the amount of accessible activity programmes available.”

Lack of infrastructure

The tool was launched in November 2021 along with the publication of an ODI report on the role of data in social prescribing. It identified a lack of data infrastructure such as statistics, maps and real time service use data, and said it was difficult for those who working in the sector to share data.

The organisation is now working with Sport England on an infrastructure to use relevant data in supporting the OpenActive initiative for people to get involved in sport.

ODI managing director Louise Burke said: “The ODI’s research shows that opening up data about physical and social activities has the potential to alleviate pressure on health services. Indeed, the standards and tools that OpenActive has developed are critical foundations for the critical data infrastructure needed for social prescribing.

“OpenActive’s long term ambition is to provide social prescribers, like GPs and those working in primary care, with access to physical activity opportunity data by integrating OpenActive data feeds into social prescribing systems and services.”

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