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Connected cities to improve northern health



Data sharing NHS project to get under way in autumn

A world first data sharing project to improve the poor health of people across northern England will get underway in the autumn, the Treasury has announced.

Earlier this year, a £20m grant was handed to a partnership of leading northern universities, teaching hospitals and health science experts to prepare the scheme.

The Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA) – or Health North – is creating ‘Connected Health Cities’ to analyse data on the effectiveness of different drugs, treatments and practices.

Trillion dollar market

The plan is to create a “trillion dollar market in digital health”, exploiting the UK’s availability of data and technical capability in data science to transform health and care.

A section of the Budget document, published last week, states: “The government is making good progress to deliver Health North, which will go live in autumn 2015.”

The project will follow patients through different health services and extract information from many different organisations and databases along those ‘pathways’.

In addition, the benefits of new medical discoveries will be more rapidly shared across other parts of the country, by performing more useful studies on well understood local populations than existing national databases manage.

The example has been given of a woman with high blood pressure and depression whose GP is uncertain about the best choice of drug for her. Under Connected Health Cities, the woman takes part in a trial comparing seemingly equivalent drugs, including home monitoring of blood pressure and her experiences via a mobile app.

The scheme’s promoters are confident of “rapid feasibility analysis and recruitment into clinical trials” across the 15 million people in the trial areas.

Digital health

The NHSA argued it will be “the catalyst for driving digital health innovation for the rest of the UK from the North of England and enable the UK to position itself as the leader in digital health market”.

The focus will be on high priority NHS care pathways including obese children, anti-microbial resistance, alcohol-related A&E attendance, chronic kidney disease and hospital admissions of people with schizophrenia and dementia.

Universities and health trusts in Manchester, Newcastle, Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Hull and York have come together to form the NHSA.

It is forging ahead despite the widely-reported problems that have hit the General Practice Extraction Service (GPES), designed to allow NHS organisations to extract data from English GPs’ computer systems.


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