Connected Yorkshire: big data, ‘big rooms’ and big health improvements

yorkshire icon Connected Yorkshire

Posted on the 15th February 2017

Kuldeep Sohal is the Programme Manager at Connected Yorkshire

I registered to attend The Health Foundation’s conference on learning healthcare systems (LHS) as soon as the event details landed in my inbox.  As the programme manager for one of northern England’s four Connected Health Cities (CHC), LHS are what we’re all about. 

Sat here now on the train back home to Bradford, following the event, I find myself feeling enthused and heading back to the Connected Yorkshire CHC with renewed confidence.  For those that don’t know, a LHS uses the data collected through patient interactions with a health service is re-used to optimise the way care for the benefit of patients.  What’s more, the new system uses local data so it works around the specific needs of the community it serves.

Reflecting on the conference’s speakers and how their thoughts and findings relate to the work we are doing across the Connected Yorkshire (CY) CHC, I’m feeling really positive that we are well on the way to making the LHS a reality for Yorkshire people.

With six health-improvement projects taking place across the region time to reflect can be scarce.  The conference has been a catalyst, an opportunity to question and consider the ways that we are delivering our CHC programme.

One of the highlights was a presentation from Sheffield Teaching Hospital‘s Prof Tom Downes, he discussed how he has effectively managed to reduce the time taken to discharge patients using the concept of a ‘Big Room’.  I hadn’t heard the term before but we use the same approach at CY.

The Big Room is centred on collaboration, patient-centred service design and public engagement.  It’s simple but really effective, by getting the right people together in a room, discussing issues and identifying solutions the team in Sheffield were able to quickly pilot and drive changes, ultimately improving outcomes for patients.

In Bradford, we recently got a range of relevant stakeholders together to understand existing pathways for patients suffering with frailty.  Bringing clinicians, IT experts, researchers and patient representatives together we are turning information into service improvements that work around the patients.  In this case, we will improve elderly care across the region.

By inviting public participation into our work we are able to allow the patient voice to help make sense of the data we have available through medical records.  It is through this partnership that we can effectively turn real-time, evidence based data into service improvements that work around and for patients.

At the heart of the system is of course, data. Data are the raw material that power learning health systems.  I’m very proud as a Bradford girl that we now have 90% of GP practices signed-up to the CY programme. We also have agreements from Bradford Teaching Hospitals, Bradford District, Community Trusts, Airedale Hospitals and Bradford Health and Wellbeing Dept.  The Sue Ryder charity which has a special interest in palliative care work are also participating in the programme.

This de-identified information will help services to work smarter – becoming tech-driven, intelligence-led services.  We know it’s possible, lots of companies use data to improve our lives from transport services to mobile services.  We understand though of course, there are additional challenges when it comes to health data.  It’s sensitive, personal information which is why it is anonymised by the GPs and why as data-users we are so committed to data security, standards and involving patients in the work we do.

As well as the great work our coordinating centre is doing with citizens’ juries, the Frailty Oversight Group (FOG) is a panel of local people who provide feedback on our research.  Having received training they are now partners in our research and play a key role in the project.  We want to know that we are approved of culturally as well as legally!

Whilst we are still in the early stages of our work the Health Foundation conference has been a much appreciated stocktake.  I’m going home with renewed inspiration and confidence and a refreshed aim to drive innovation and improve services so that Yorkshire gets the health service it deserves! #datasaveslives.


For media enquiries please contact Stephen Melia, Communications Manager, Connected Health Cities. Tel: 07557 310 213

  • Connected Health Cities are sponsoring the Informatics for Health 2017 conference from 24-26 April.
  • Connected Health Cities are sponsoring the Informatics for Health 2017 conference from 24-26 April.Connected Health Cities (CHC) is a £20 million pilot project that will safely and securely combine population data and technology to address chronic disease burdens and reduce early mortality in city regions of Northern England.
  • Funded by the Department of Health and commissioned by the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA), CHC will unite experts from academia, the NHS and industry to improve services for patients and will build public partnerships that are based on transparency and trust. #datasaveslives


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