Health North: Connected Health Cities launch

NHSA's Health North: Connected Health Cities launches today

8th September 2016



A ground-breaking £20 million project has been launched which will see four Northern city regions using data and technology in a revolutionary new way to help improve patient care and ultimately save lives.

The Health North “Connected Health Cities” (CHC) plan will see healthcare and academic experts from across the North of England collaborating to ensure local services work together to better tackle issues like unplanned hospital admissions for patients with chronic diseases.

They will use existing healthcare data to generate new insights into how they can identify patients at risk of certain conditions earlier, provide better support for patients who care for themselves and make better, more targeted use of community based care.

Health and Innovation Minister Nicola Blackwood MP said:“It is fantastic to see Health North bringing data from different city regions together to benefit the patients they serve.

“This project could set an exciting precedent of working collaboratively across regions, with the potential to be replicated right across the country.”

Each CHC will seek the help of local patients to make sure actual health needs are being addressed by the project.  Along with developing these public partnerships that will scrutinise the way data is used in the CHCs, citizen juries will be set-up to understand more about public attitudes to the use of health data in research.

The project – called Health North – is being developed by the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA), a health partnership which spans the region and brings together the North’s leading university medical schools, NHS teaching hospitals and Academic Health Science Networks.

It is hoped that by working more closely together, the collaborations, which also include local authorities, will create a more complete picture of local health and social care.

Existing and under-used health data will be used for a number of projects including looking to reduce falls in elderly patients, helping to spot alcohol misuse at an earlier stage and cutting the inappropriate use of antibiotics.

The project is also keen to reduce the amount of time it takes for new medical technology and clinical techniques to be used in local areas by exploring how quickly evidence of their effectiveness can be given to decision makers.

The north has been handpicked for the pioneering project in a bid to reduce health inequalities, improve dialogue between health services and patients and to optimise health and social care services.

Protecting the data the project will use is key. That’s why strict controls will be set to ensure patient confidentiality is maintained.

The Chair of the Northern Health Science Alliance Professor Ian Greer said today: “The NHSA is delighted to be able to deliver the Health North project, and these first Connected Health Cities pilots are just the start of ensuring that we improve the health as well as the wealth of the Northern Powerhouse.”

Rob Finnigan, of Manchester has kidney disease.  He said:  “I’m fully supportive of a health service that maximises its data to improve public health.

The benefits are enormous, for example by merging databases together researchers are able to get a more complete picture of public health and understand how best to plan services or prevent diseases from occurring in the first place.”

 Matthew Sullivan, Patient living with a long-term condition, Manchester:  “Better use of data including health data could help spot different combinations of factors we may not yet have considered.  We understand the independent effects of certain behaviour and treatments but not the cumulative.  Connected Health Cities might help us to understand why some treatments work for some patients and not for others.  I’m positive about a future where the secure and efficient use of data becomes commonplace.”

Case studies of potential projects.

  • A proposal from the North East and North Cumbria will link together information for patients with dementia and frailty so that professionals have a complete picture of the patient journey and provide the intelligence researchers need to better plan future services around the needs of local people.
  • Along the North West Coast, health and social care providers are working with universities and local businesses to see if they can spot alcohol misuse at an early stage, and so develop tailored alcohol pathways for patients, including the use of Smartphone Apps that patients can use to manage their condition.
  • In Manchester, researchers are using advances in technology to understand more about antimicrobial medication.  Whilst there is much research highlighting the negative outcomes associated with the inappropriate use of antimicrobial mediations, there is no current radar indicating the factors that contribute to the over-prescribing of antibiotics.  By capitalising on advances in technology it is possible for real-time informatics, such as antibiotic prescription data from GP’s, A&E and out of hours practices and associated health outcomes as recorded in a patient’s health records, to be available to GP’s and researchers providing a better insight into the how and why of this issue so that future solutions are rooted in good quality evidence.
  • In Yorkshire, researchers working on the Born in Bradford project will look at multiple data sources to better understand the underlying factors that contribute to childhood obesity.  Patients will be invited to participate in the research study through the use of mobile phone apps so that teams can identify better ways to prevent more serious medical conditions later in life.


Subscribe to our Newsletter