Pioneering health project saves lives and creates capacity for the NHS in the North

Connected Health Cities, delivered by the NHSA, has published its impact report

4th March 2020

BY putting patients at the heart of how their data is used, Connected Health Cities (CHC) has delivered outstanding results saving lives, protecting capacity within the NHS worth many millions of pounds per year and improving the care of millions of patients.

CHC, delivered by the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA), has today published its impact report demonstrating how the project has:

  • Linked 10 million health records in the region
  • Created at least £30 million of investment
  • Shown early indications at least £150 million worth of cash savings is being made in the North of England’s NHS and social care every year.

The vision behind CHC was to unite local health data and advanced technology to improve health services for patients across the North of England. By making better use of the information and technology that already exists in the regional health and social care system, CHC has been able to improve health and ensure services were more joined-up.

CHC brought together 20 Acute NHS Trusts, over 500 GP Practices, 10 universities and the northern Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) to innovate and improve care through joint working from March 2016 to March 2020.

The project, delivered through a coordinating hub in Manchester and regional centres covering the North East and North Cumbria, North West Coast, Yorkshire and Humber and Greater Manchester, put patients at the heart of how their health data was used to great success.

The impact report highlights individual projects delivered by CHC across the North, which have also achieved very promising results:

  • The Hyper-Acute Stroke Unit in Greater Manchester developed the ABC care bundle for patients with intracerebral (brain) haemorrhage and observed a reduction of around 22% in the number of patients dying within 30 days
  • In the North East, the Great North Care Record was accessed 1.5m times last year and is saving the region’s NHS at least £8m a year.
  • An extra 40% of cases of liver disease were identified in the North West using new algorithms meaning patients are getting the right treatment.
  • Identified 1 in 5 acute hospital admissions in Yorkshire and Humber are unnecessary helping identify £700m which could be redeployed into other areas of health and social care

Connected Health Cities was a £20m, four-year pilot funded by the Department of Health in 2015. It recognised the potential value of health data, with appropriate care system and population engagement, to both drive improvement in the provision of care and to create a research and economic asset across the North that was understood and supported by its people.

Dr Séamus O’Neill, Chief Executive of the Northern Health Science Alliance, said: “Connected Health Cities has achieved a huge amount in four years. It is becoming clear that it has both reduced costs and improved outcomes in the NHS, with a very significant positive return on investment. It has become an exemplar of how citizens can, and should, be engaged in discussions on how their health and social care data is used.

“What CHC has managed to do is actually put the potential of health and social care data into practice instead of just talking about it. The four regional programmes built and sustained trust amongst patients and practitioners. In doing so these engaged networks have been able to effect real change within their own health economies and have built a socio-technical platform that has global potential.

“A major piece of learning along the way is that it takes time to deliver a new way of working on a technically complex stage, across a highly complex system. The returns on investment are already being seen and the work done on CHC will keep delivering for our care system, patients and their families over many years to come.

“We now have, across the North of England, the basis of a Connected Health Data System with the potential to deliver ever greater social and economic impact.”

Professor John Ainsworth, Director of Connected Health Cities, said: “In Connected Health Cities we have shown that a data driven approach to improving health and care services is not only feasible but has the potential to transform health and care.

“Central to our approach was building public trust through an innovative programme of public engagement. Through the care pathway transformation projects, we have shown what can be achieved when we work collaboratively across organisational boundaries, harnessing skills and knowledge from across the NHS, academia and industry.

“Connected Health Cities has broken new ground and created the blueprint for the evolution of health and care.”

Dame Fiona Caldicott, National Data Guardian for Health and Social Care, said: “I commend Connected Health Cities for its commitment to public engagement and its dedication to understanding what patients and the public truly think about the use of their health and care data. Such meaningful engagement is vital if we are to gain people’s trust and win their support for the use of their information in initiatives that may see data being used in new and innovative ways.

“We found the citizens’ jury that we held in partnership with CHC in 2018, which delivered valuable insights into the patient data sharing scenarios citizens felt could be ‘reasonably expected’, particularly beneficial. It also clearly demonstrated how fears about data sharing can be alleviated through honest and straightforward conversations.

“The team has done much to ensure that the patient’s voice has had a prominent ‘place at the table’ during the delivery of their data sharing initiative – their work has made its mark both regionally and nationally.”

Professor David Burn, chair of the Northern Health Science Alliance and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University, said: “The North of England has huge capabilities in delivering health research and innovation as demonstrated so clearly in the Connected Health Cities Impact report.

“It is wonderful to see the impact of the project which is transforming the way in which health care workers, from doctors to paramedics, are using health data to improve patients’ lives across the North of England.

“Bold new ways of thinking are key to realising the potential of the region and Connected Health Cities shows the North has the health innovation skills to deliver for its population.”

To read the impact summary, click here

To access the full report, click here

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