Medicine 2019—From big data to personalised care


  • UK Medical News
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By Rachel Pugh

Soon a patient with heart failure in Greater Manchester will rarely be admitted to hospital but receive a call from a specialist from a central hub, querying a variation in data transmitted from their pacemaker device via their smartphone— sometimes before they have symptoms. Advice may be enough to prevent hospital admission.

Professor Ben Bridgewater, Chief Executive of Health Innovation Manchester and a former cardiologist, described the SPRINT trial, currently being piloted in Greater Manchester, on around 1000 patients with worsening heart conditions, to show how digital technology is driving health innovation towards personalised health in the UK’s first devolved health and social care system.

The SPRINT trial1 set up by Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust with Medtronic is already collecting data via implanted devices. Two months of data have already produced an increase in the number of early deterioration flags acted upon and identified undiagnosed community heart failure. Work is now concentrating on refining data accuracy before it can be rolled out citywide.

Heart failure is a heavy burden in Greater Manchester with 4330 admissions in 2015-2016 at a cost of more than £17 million. Digital solutions to this and other conditions, such as diabetes and mental illness are being pioneered in this city, hailed by Harvard University as ‘the most exciting city experiment in healthcare.’

This technological lead is possible because of a combination of strengths:

  • A single Greater Manchester health and social care system created through the devolution of its £6 billion annual budget.
  • The existence of Health Innovation Manchester (HInM), which accelerates innovation into practice and at scale, by creating close and intricate collaborations between the NHS, academia and industry.
  • A history of digital innovation including the only fully e-enabled NHS trust in England and global digital exemplar hospital (Salford Royal NHS Trust).
  • An infrastructure to carry out real-time, digitally-enhanced, randomised controlled trials established by the Salford Lung Study.

Professor Bridgewater said Manchester’s health planners, understood the power of digital solutions in tackling population health, 80 percent of which is determined by environmental factors. Technology is being harnessed to help people take better care of themselves as individuals and liberate resources so that the city’s hospitals are only used by those in the greatest need.

Professor Ben Bridgewater says: “When it comes to using technology and deriving benefits for the citizen, it’s the operating model, the people and the culture that are at least as important as the technology itself.”