Trust, Toolkits and Teams: the 2019 #DataSavesLives Mission to Australia and Singapore

Group CHC Hub

Posted on the 21st June 2019


So, as we ♥ data, let’s start with some statistics: in March 4 members of the Connected Health Cities (CHC) hub team took covered 23000 miles within 14 days, to reach over 600 people, give 13 talks, hold 4 panel sessions and meet with 10 organisations across 2 continents and 4 cities. Well, they’re the hard facts, but WHY?  WHAT HAPPENED? And WHAT NEXT?

Now in its fourth year, the award winning CHC programme, part of the NHSA’s Health North strategy, is transforming lives across four city regions the north of England utilising its unique method on range of diverse care pathways, including the treatments of childhood asthma in the home; better care coordination for people with frailty and tools to help tackle antibiotic usage. This mission to Australia and Singapore forms a key part of our global outreach to governments and industry partners to identify opportunities to replicate and reproduce the NINE key aspects we have identified to create benefit for health and social care through learning health systems.

Part One: a tale of three cities

We started the trip with purpose, visiting the digital arm of New South Wales Health, eHealth NSW. Led by visiting led by Dr Zoran Bolevich, eHealth NSW are responsible for ICT strategy and policy, systems capability as well as leading implementation on national initiatives such as the Australian digital baby book. After giving a seminar and panel session to staff in their amazing theatre, we sat down with Zoran and his executive over lunch, having a ranging conversation on the importance of capturing the citizen’s voice and lessons from experience on how to go about building a consistent foundation in order to drive positive change through data.

This set us up with a really good understanding of regional implementation and policy, ready for our next meeting with the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA), the government agency leading the MyHealthRecord implementation across entirety of Australia, with a public facing campaign of epic proportions – the campaign was require to reach EVERY person! We shared learning about our respective models that use pilot pathways to build evidence and trust; reciprocity in citizen and patient engagement and how initiatives such as the #datasaveslives campaign has helped trust and open, honest conversations in the UK.  Clara Lubbers also briefed us on the Global Digital Health Partnership, a collaboration of 25 countries (including the UK) and includes the WHO. Their most recent white papers can be read here.

Our final stop in sunny Sydney was an opportunity to spend time with colleagues from Macquarie University’s Australian Health Informatics Agency. Led by the esteemed Professor Enrico Coiera, we spent a stimulating morning learning more about their world-leading work across areas such as ubiquitous monitoring, AI; machine learning, behaviour change and conversational agents, as well as reflecting on the importance of the movement towards data-led health age being grounded in an evidence-base that means it will be safe and equitable.

Well that brought us to the next leg of the visit – off to Melbourne to hold a seminar hosted by the Victoria Agency for Health Informatics (VAHI). An early adopter and supporter of the #datasaveslives brand, Lance Emerson VAHI’s Chief Executive welcomed the team to the event warmly, *kindly* mentioning breezily that Melbourne is the world’s second most liveable city and that Manchester is the 35th…well facts don’t lie! He went on to introduce CHC to the 70 strong audience, which included some VIP guests including Rob Knowles, former Health Minister for Victoria, Hospital CEOs and Board Chairs, and chaired the interactive panel. It was exciting to hear about VAHIs plans to create a data-driven ecosystem and we look forward to continuing to build on and share learnings as they continue on their journey. While in the city, Prof Ainsworth also spent some face to face time with collaborators at Melbourne University with whom Manchester partners on the EMPOWER a research project developing new ways of helping people with experience of psychosis to stay well.

Then after a quick lunch St Kilda for Ruth to reminisce about her time there as a 20-something *mumble* years ago, it was time to…..GET ON A PLANE AGAIN!

Our final stop in Oz saw us spend a full and stimulating day with our friends at the South Australia Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) on their incredible co-located research-hospital health innovation campus, starting with a seminar and panel session. Our hosts, Andrew McAlindon (Chief Data and Analytics Officer at Central Adelaide Local Health Network and Wendy Keech (Chief Executive Officer, Health Translation SA) kicked off the session with inspiring details of SA’s history of meeting leaders from UK’s health informatics landscape (Prof Iain Buchan, et al) and their ambitious plans for truly multi-agency, data-driven health service. As well as tours of both the SAHMRI building, and the state of the art Royal Adelaide Hospital, we were delighted to meet with the team from one of Australia’s flagship national registries:  the Australian Orthopaedic Association National Joint Replacement Registry (AOANJRR) The AOANJRR was established in 1999 with the purpose of improving and maintaining the quality of care for individuals receiving joint replacement surgery (hip, knee, shoulder, elbow, wrist, ankle and spinal disc replacement). With a 100% consent rate and very impressive quality data, head of the initiative, Professor Steve Graves described their resource and explored several areas for future conversations which could draw upon our complementary strengths.

And so after a full and stimulating week, it’s time for the team to leave Australia for a further set of international meetings.

Part Two: Singapore: a very warm welcome

We were delighted to be invited to be part of the UK delegation to Singapore, alongside, NHS Digital (Noel Gordon, Chair), and Healthcare UK, academics and innovative British companies.

HiTEC Conference

Our Singapore schedule started with the MOH Holdings’ HiTEC conference. The event was opened by a series of VIPs: firstly, Dr Amy Khor, Minister of State, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, next His Excellency Scott Wightman UK High Commissioner to Singapore, who welcomed the UK delegation on this, the 200th anniversary of UK-SG relationship. Another birthday was also celebrated – the 70th birthday of NHS – in the address from Noel Gordon, Chair of NHS Digital. Mr Gordon reviewed the UK’s transformational NHS programme of NHS, and the importance placed upon co-design within this vision. It was also a stark reminder of how the NHS model of universal health service free at the point of care, it is a system not able to ‘cherry pick’ customer segments like other sectors. Instead other levers are required to meet demand; inverting the service paradigm and bend the demand curve to community and tertiary services. Colleagues from Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and NHS Estates further shared the UK perspective on the relationship between health system services and infrastructure.

So, then the focus turned to CHC as an exemplar programme from the UK, with our CTO Gary Leeming giving an introduction to our learning cycle method and examples of how it is making waves across Northern England. It was a privilege for CHC to present and network at this excellent conference; and stimulating to view health opportunities from the angle of physical environment, architecture, infrastructure and the impact and importance in health and society. The need for data-driven care improvement appears very clear to us in the research and health communities, but needs to be balance with security of the data and a strong commitment to the social contract with the citizens and patients who are the people behind the data. This was particular emphasised in the visit to the care home where elderly Singaporeans are cared for in a new facility that is designed to be as open as possible to its local community, so everyone is engaged.

High Commissioner’s Reception

Eden Hall is a beautiful residence and wonderful place to visit, and it was with a warm welcome from Scott Wightman that we arrived at the High Commissioner’s residence for the UK delegation’s networking reception. It was a wonderful evening to close our time with the team and offered a fantastic range of discussions with new contacts – from Vietnam, China Malaysia, SG and back in the UK! It was also an opportunity to chat about final event organised by the SG UK Dept of International Trade which Professor John Ainsworth join a round table with senior members of IHIS developing areas for future collaborations with UK based partners.

UoM Worldwide

After many emails and calls, it was great to finally meet our University of Manchester Worldwide team. Beeing Lim and Margaret Teo gave us a tour of their facilities, we watched a teaching module in flight, before sitting down for a detailed discussion of the next part of our schedule – the day with SingHealth UOMWW had organised for us in partnership with Grace Lin, CFO at their KK Women’s & Children’s Hospital.


With a network of acute hospitals, national specialty centres, community hospitals and polyclinics offering over 40 clinical specialties, the SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre draws on the collective strengths of SingHealth and Duke-NUS Medical School to drive the transformation of healthcare and provide affordable, accessible and quality healthcare. We were delighted and honoured to meet with Professor Kenneth Kwek and 10+ other senior leadership from SingHealth, all of whom are passionate about implementing change through data driven solutions. The CHC and SingHealth attendees covered key topics including data security; the and the role of innovative vehicles for exploring trust, change management and team operations which CHC has found invaluable to design and implement, such as Citizens Juries and Megagames. Dr Amanda Lamb also described the method’s approach of focusing upon both soft and hard infrastructure to ensure sustainable, replicable data driven implementations. The team took a particular interest in the CHC method’s ability to drive rapid change in a live system, enabling increased pace of implementation through its bespoke toolkit, such as the exemplar of reducing change cycle from 10 years to 18months.

The team then enjoyed an opportunity to speak to staff across the organisation as part of the SingHealth seminar series, with a stimulating panel Q&A. Finally, chaperoned by the Chief Finance Officer, Grace Lim, we then undertook a comprehensive hospital tour, visiting the e-pharmacy and watching the robot porters transporting vital goods around the building.

Thank You!

The mission team: Professor John Ainsworth (Director), Dr Amanda Lamb (Chief Operating Officer), Ruth Norris (Head of Strategic Partnerships) and Gary Leeming (Chief Technology Officer) would like to say a huge thank you to all of our hosts, fixers, supporting agencies and funders for making this important mission possible. We look forward to building upon our discussions with shared learnings, collaborations and lifting up one another across the globe as we drive towards a new data-driven health paradigm for the benefit of all.


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