Connected Health Cities are improving health and social care in the North of England. We do this by linking and analysing data. This includes the de-identified health information that is collected by hospitals and GP surgeries and used to provide us with health and care services.
When our researchers link the health records of whole populations or patients they can identify patterns and better understand the way our health services are delivered. We operate under strict information security laws and robust internal policies, and our absolute aim is to protect patients and save lives.
Where are the Connected Health Cities located?
Connected Health Cities are located in the following city regions:
- Greater Manchester
- North East and North Cumbria
- North West Coast (Liverpool and Lancaster)
- Yorkshire (Bradford, Leeds and Sheffield)
The four CHC are connected though a coordinating centre known as the CHC Hub, located in Manchester.
Who funds Connected Health Cities?
Connected Health Cities is funded by the Department of Health.
The funding for the CHC project was awarded to the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA). The NHSA are a not-for-profit membership organisation. Its Board and Council represent the leaders from the North’s top research universities, research intensive teaching hospitals and Academic Health Science Networks.
Why do we need Connected Health Cities?
Health and social care in the UK are at a crossroads.
Although there have been huge advances in knowledge and in the development of new technologies the burden of disease is increasing. We are living longer and often unhealthier lifestyles which means that the cost of care is increasing. In addition, there are emerging health threats, such as the decrease in antibiotic effectiveness, which do not have obvious solutions.
By working in partnership with other health services and making better use of the intelligence that is contained in our health records we can address many of the challenges facing our NHS. The problem though, is that many of the required IT frameworks are not currently in place and once they are, they need to be populated with the relevant data.
Connected Health Cities will start this process and will aim to demonstrate its success by focusing on specific disease areas and data.
What are the aims of Connected Health Cities?
The aims of CHC are:
- To develop a system that will continually improve care services and health. This system will make health care more efficient by providing information to health service managers that can be quickly implemented into standard practice. This system is known as a Learning Health System.
- To work with and gain the public’s trust that we are using health data responsibly, safely and to improve services for the benefit of all patients.
- To stimulate the UK’s digital health economy by encouraging new technologies to be developed and new services to be created.
Connected Health Cities is a three year pilot project. The successes of Connected Health Cities will be shared and could be scaled up across the UK.
How will Connected Health Cities deliver its improvements?
A care pathway sets out the process that should be followed to treat patients with specific needs.
The care pathways act as guidelines for health professionals. They outline the best practice that professionals should follow so that when you are ill you are offered a consistent and high quality standard of care.
Care pathways offer researchers the best opportunity to improve health services as the data is created as patients move through the process and across services.
Each CHC will identify at least two care pathways projects to investigate.
What data will be used?
Only data that is relevant to the care pathways projects will be used but the types of data will depend on the project and the disease domain. We will only use data for which there is a legal basis to do so.
Some projects may use data that is generated as part of routine health and social care and some may incorporate new forms of data like information that is collected by the patient outside of their standard health appointment.
CHC will use anonymous data wherever possible, which will be the case for all service improvement and evaluation activity.
Personal or personal confidential data will only be used when it is for the purpose of direct care or there is patient consent or a S251 exemption has been made. For example if data linkage is to be made for the purposes other than direct care, we will seek patient consent.
In the future, health and social care improvements will come through increasingly large and complex pieces of data, for example:
- DNA sequences
- Medical images
- Patient reported data
- Environmental data
- Personal sensor data
This complex data will allow us to offer more personal forms of care and medication and empower patients to manage their own care. More intelligent use of data will also allow health professionals to target care to those who need it the most.
How will Connected Health Cities work with the public?
Working with the public and inviting the patient’s voice into our research is really important to us. We will work with the public in a number of ways:
- We have run two citizens’ juries to learn more about what citizens think about CHCs. More information about the citizens’ juries.
- Each CHC will have a forum made up of ordinary citizens from their area. These forums will provide advice and guidance to the CHC staff on the work that they are doing. We will be advertising the recruitment soon.
- We will be communicating our work via Twitter (@CHCNorth) and using the hashtag #datasaveslives to outline how health data can make a difference to people’s lives.
We are planning more activities over the coming months and we will advertise them widely.
If you have any questions please also feel free to contact us using the link below.
What kind of data can be shared as part of this project? (anonymous, personal or confidential?)
CHC will only use data for which there is a legal basis to do so. CHC will use anonymous data wherever possible, which will be the case for the all service improvement and evaluation activity.
Personal or personal confidential data will only be used when it is for the purpose of direct care or there is patient consent or a S251 exemption has been made.
Who requests the patient data?
Who has access to the data that is provided?
Data will be analysed in secure facilities with IGTK L2. Only staff working in CHC with employment contracts in accordance with IGTK L2 will be able to access data. Each CHC secure data facility will be designed according to privacy by design principles.
Are any commercial organisations involved?
One of the goals of CHC is to accelerate business growth in the digital health sector for the benefit of the north of England. There are no formal relationships with any commercial organisation as of yet.
CHC will never sell data to a commercial organisation and will never transfer data to a commercial organisation without the informed consent of those to whom the data refers.
Who can apply for the data – is this done through NHS Digital?
NHS Digital is one potential supplier and will be used wherever possible. Where necessary local data flows will also be put in place with data sharing agreements in place for each. For local data flows data will be anonymised at source.
It will be the responsibility of the pathway project leader to request patient data. This will include setting up Information Sharing Agreements, or NHS Digital Data Sharing Contracts.
CHC has adopted the Information Sharing Gateway as a tool to facilitate this.
CHC will enable additional care pathway projects to optimise health and social care services in the future. CHC will work to develop a efficient process to facilitate this with proportionate governance.
CHC does not and will not supply data to anyone outside the project; it is not possible for an external organisation to apply for data through CHC.