Institute of Health & Society

Connected Health Cities

Connected Health Cities

The Connected Health Cities (CHC) project was created as one element of George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse Initiative. It is funded by a £20M grant commissioned by the Northern Health Science Alliance from the Department of Health and Social Care. It is coordinated by a hub based in the University of Manchester, led by Prof John Ainsworth.

The Institute of Health and Society and Newcastle University host the £4M North East and North Cumbria (CHC-NENC) component of the project: Director Prof Joe McDonald; Chief Information Officer Dr Nick Booth; Operations Director Mr Mark Walsh; Principal Investigator Prof Paul Burton. By working with patients, health practitioners and experts in digital health the aim of CHC is to construct and exploit a health informatics infrastructure that can have a real impact on public health in the North of England.

Under the umbrella of the broader CHC-NENC project, the IHS-based team, headed by Paul Burton and Nick Booth, is focused on designing and prototyping a technical infrastructure to manage, integrate, analyse, and exploit health and social care data across the North East and North Cumbria. This infrastructure, which is called “ARCHIE”, combines an “ARK” (Trusted Research Environment) and “HIE” (Health Information Exchange). Ultimately, data, documents and other information from primary care, secondary and tertiary care (foundation trusts), local councils, other data sources, including from research projects and from individual people/patients, will be able to be linked together for analysis by university researchers, health professionals, local council officers, and potentially industry.

Within Newcastle University the program of technical development embodied in ARCHIE is complemented and supported by a parallel program of work aimed at exploring and ensuring effective information governance, appropriate regard for social perspectives and active engagement with all stakeholders including the general public.

This social-science work is led by Prof Madeleine Murtagh (PEALS Centre, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences [HaSS]). In parallel, Prof Mike Martin (Business School, also HaSS) uses methods he has developed in the Living Lab to facilitate effective architectural discourse within the project.

Other crucial project partners include NECS (North East Commissioning Service) and NEQOS (North East Quality Observatory Service).

ARCHIE may be viewed as a prototype for a comprehensive regional structure – designated the Great North Care Record (GNCR) – aimed at supporting the provision, management and exploitation of health and social data in NENC for three primary purposes:

  1. research
  2. health & social care strategic planning and evaluation
  3. front-line care

The first stage of the GNCR is already completed, enabling secondary and tertiary care professionals to access primary care data from 96% of regional general practices. This nascent GNCR is firmly embedded in the local health care system with 25,000 ‘hits’ per month providing hospital staff with real time access to GP records. This enables better management of patients in critical unplanned healthcare settings - such as accident and emergency - providing a concrete example of a basic message of CHC that - used effectively - “data save lives” (https://www.connectedhealthcities.org/what-is-a-chc/public-engagment/datasaveslives/).

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