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14.02.18

Data saves lives

Source: NHE Jan/Feb 18

Kuldeep Sohal, programme manager at Connected Yorkshire, part of Connected Health Cities, discusses how data sharing across the north is improving care for patients by linking services together more effectively.

Imagine a health service that is able to offer a bespoke treatment plan, personalised to every patient. One that is so advanced that it is able to understand which conditions a patient is most at risk of developing and then suggest the measures they could take to prevent it. 

It might sound like science fiction, but our research teams, working on the Connected Health Cities programme in Bradford, are aiming to make this vision of healthcare a reality.

Operating across the north of England’s four city regions (Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, the north east and the north west coast) Connected Health Cities is an ambitious £20m Department of Health-funded programme that is turning underused and routinely collected health information into smart, tech-focused new treatments and continually improving services for patients.

At the heart of the programme is data. The information that health professionals use to monitor our health and track our treatments can be re-used for secondary purposes like research and service improvement. 

After going through a process of de-personalisation, data is analysed at a population level. This analysis allows us to discover valuable new health insights that can improve the way services are delivered and treatments are managed. 

Researchers are also now able to use the latest technology and computer processing power to securely link the de-personalised data from one department to another. These linked datasets provide a powerful and rich source of information that make healthcare more patient-focused and seamless.

A better understanding of conditions

There are lots of ways the data can be used to improve care, including the creation of new diagnostic tools, like the electronic frailty index (eFI). The eFI allows doctors to quickly understand an older patient’s risk of frailty, a serious condition that affects one in 10 people aged over 65.

A patient that is found to be at risk following an eFI assessment will then work with health and social care services to put together a personalised and agreed support plan that could prevent a serious health incident from ever taking place.

Having the right data ecosystem

Bradford is lucky, as its health ecosystem is one of the UK’s most advanced when it comes to data sharing. All 88 GP practices, the three NHS trusts (Bradford Teaching Hospitals, Airedale Hospitals, and Bradford District Community Trust), Bradford and North Yorkshire councils and a number of charities have all agreed to share relevant and specific types of data as part of Connected Health Cities for the benefit of local health services.

Partnership working is fundamental to the success of our data-intensive health research projects. By taking a multidisciplinary, ‘team science’ approach to our work, we are able to work with a wide range of stakeholders including patients reps and members of the public.  We do this to understand their health needs; ultimately we answer to patients and, as a proud Bradfordian and working mum, I know how important it is that we get it right for local people. 

We also work closely with information governance experts to make sure our secure data platform protects patient data and to make sure it is only ever used in compliance with current legislation. 

The Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network is also using its extensive partnerships with health services, academia and industry to support the Bradford Institute for Health Research team to build its network to deliver this important work.

It is still early days and advances in health care do take time, but we’re passionate about making sure our NHS is able to deliver the right care to the right patient at the right time, and we’re excited about further exploring the potential of data in advancing Bradford’s health system.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Tw: @CHCNorth
W: www.connectedhealthcities.org

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