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Case Study - OLM

Improving social care through Big Data


A Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Reading enabled OLM Systems to unlock the potential of Big Data to improve social care practice in the UK.

OLM Systems is the UK's leading provider of innovative software solutions for the social care sector. Its products include the award-winning CareFirst management system, which is used by more than 100 local Adult and Children’s Services and NHS trusts across the UK.



Social care is a data-intensive sector, with thousands of detailed case notes and service user records being generated every day by practitioners stored on digital platforms. OLM Systems identified a unique opportunity in the potential for the aggregation and analysis of the data held on CareFirst, to inform the delivery of social care interventions by providers.

However, CareFirst records typically include large quantities of unstructured text, which is difficult to analyse in a meaningful way, so OLM Systems needed to develop a tool for their Search and Discovery platform that could be used to enhance and analyse text data.

With the development of such a tool requiring significant, highly technical changes to the existing functionality and capabilities of the search and discovery platform, the OLM Systems team turned to specialists at the Informatics Research Centre at the University of Reading.




With support from the University's Knowledge Transfer Centre, the team at OLM Systems secured funding for a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) involving two academic collaborators with expertise in artificial intelligence, data analytics, and health informatics. A KTP Associate with suitable technical skills and experience was recruited to manage and deliver the project and to provide a point of contact between the partners. Together, the associate and OLM Systems worked with the academics to identify and adapt suitable analysis tools and techniques that could be incorporated into the company's search and discovery software, as well as identifying product delivery partners based on a detailed health market knowledge.



As a result of the KTP, OLM Systems developed an improved product with market-leading analytical capabilities, helping its customers to understand their data and identify meaningful patterns and correlations to inform the development of better social care interventions.

This led to direct improvements to social care outcomes, with the product being embedded in the management infrastructure of more than 100 local authority services and NHS trusts. It also presented new market opportunities for OLM Systems, as the enhanced analytical functionality of the software filled a critical capability gap for many smaller care providers.

As well as bringing direct financial benefits, the KTP has also contributed significantly to the overall business strategy at OLM Systems. Expertise in data analytics has now been embedded in the company through the ongoing employment of the KTP associate, while collaboration with the Informatics Research Centre has presented new opportunities within the AI sector.

‘This has been a genuine case of a 2-way knowledge transfer.  We have benefited much from knowledge that has been transferred to us, mainly in the area of semantic enhancement of data.’ 

David Rivett, Chief Operating Officer