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Connected Health Cities

The Health North Connected Health Cities (CHC) programme was launched last year to bring together healthcare and academic experts from across the north of England to ensure local services work together to better tackle issues like child health and unplanned hospital admissions for patients with chronic diseases.

Connected Yorkshire is one of four Connected Health Cities set up after the Government announced a £20 million funding package. Connected Health Cities are the first part of the Government’s Health North programme, announced last year, with the aim of unlocking healthcare innovations in the English regions with the greatest health challenges.

Connected Yorkshire will demonstrate a collaborative approach to the development of Connected Health Cities.  By working with teams of NHS clinicians and experts in data science from across Bradford, Leeds and Sheffield the team is delivering health improvements around local services and local needs. The University of Leeds will provide analytical and warehouse infrastructure through the newly established Leeds Institute for Data Analytics. The University of York will provide epidemiological and health services research expertise to show how safe and secure data linkage can transform the region.

The result of each of these organisations working together will be the creation of a more complete picture of local health and social care across Yorkshire. Strict controls are in place to ensure patient confidentiality is maintained whenever patient data is used as part of this project.

The majority of health and social care providers across the Bradford area including GP practices, hospitals, the local council and charities have already agreed to share anonymous information as part of the Connected Health Cities Project.  This information does not include identifiable data like names, dates of birth and address.

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.

In Bradford, there is a particular focus on child health. The Connected Yorkshire CHC team and researchers working on the Born in Bradford project are looking at multiple data sources to better understand the underlying factors that contribute to childhood obesity.

This work is being led by the Connected Yorkshire CHC and the Bradford Institute of Health Research (BIHR) with links to the Born in Bradford project. Over recent months, a multidisciplinary team has been working across Bradford to encourage local sign up to information sharing protocols whilst ensuring that access to both the public and anonymised data, integral to the programme, complies with the highest standards of information governance.

To date around 90 per cent of health and social care organisations in Bradford have now signed up to the data sharing agreement. This includes Bradford Clinical Commissioning Groups, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Airedale Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, local GP practices, Bradford Council’s health and wellbeing department and the Sue Ryder charity, which has a special interest in the palliative care work.

The Connected Yorkshire CHC has also been organising workshops or ‘Big Rooms’ – a concept highlighted by Prof Tom Downes from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust – for key stakeholders providing care to come together to discuss how improvements to pathways of care can be made.

The ‘big rooms’ have started to develop the healthy ageing project, which is underpinned by the electronic Frailty Index (eFI) used in GP practices to identify frail patients and has also been replicated in an autism project.

This work in the ‘big room’ will continue to grow, strengthened by the knowledge of the key stakeholders involved in the delivery of patient care in the pathway layered with the intelligence derived from the linked anonymised health and social care data. Participation will also be extended to include the public to potentially drive decision making to improve child and adult healthcare outcomes across Bradford.

BIHR is being supported throughout the programme by the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN).

The Yorkshire & Humber AHSN is using its extensive partnerships with health services, academia and industry to support the BIHR team to build its network to deliver this important work.

The CHC project aligns closely with the objectives of the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN as it supports its members to create significant improvements in the health of the region’s population by reducing variability and improving experiences of the healthcare system.

The Yorkshire & Humber AHSN also supports bringing new medical technology and clinical techniques into the NHS at pace and scale, another objective of the CHC project.

Prof John Wright, Connected Yorkshire CHC Director, is Clinical Director at the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN’s Improvement Academy.

Additional information

The Health North Connected Health Cities Plan is being developed by the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA), a health partnership that 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 will create a more complete picture of local health and social care.

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.

More information is available here