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Proposals have been announced for a ground-breaking project that could help prevent falls for elderly people, tackle antibiotic resistance and improve many other areas of health and social care through better use of data and technologies.

Continuing the Liverpool City Region’s tradition as a pioneer in public health, its Combined Authority will be asked to approve funding of £5.3m for a project that could revolutionise how data is used to deliver better care for residents and create new health technology jobs in the region.

The funding would be used, in partnership with local residents and service users, by Liverpool Health Partners to combine and improve their facilities for analysing anonymised health and social care data.

This will work as a “Civic Data Co-operative” – providing better insights into care needs and enhancing data security across the many NHS and local government organisations that provide care. These insights will foster innovations that improve care, such as technologies to help people with complex health conditions live better at home, or to help clinicians react quicker to prevent diseases getting worse.

By working together as a Liverpool City Region Civic Data Co-operative, care services will be able to both plan and deliver care that is better integrated across different services – for example, social care worker, district nurse and GP visits responding to a resident’s needs at the right time.

The ability to plug new health technologies into connected data systems will attract innovators to Liverpool City Region – improving care services directly and creating jobs – for example:

  • Preventing falls among older people, using data from in-home sensors
  • Detecting complications of diabetes earlier by training AI to read eye photograph data
  • Reducing infections for everyone by training AI to help GPs chose the right antibiotic for the right bug in the right patient at the right time

Speaking about the project, Councillor Pat Hackett, Portfolio Holder for Inclusive Growth and Third Sector, said:

“In the 19th century our city region led the way in public health, through Kitty Wilkinson’s establishment of the first public washhouses and Dr Duncan’s appointment as the world’s first public health officer.

“In the 21st century we are already leading the way as pioneers of projects using the power of data to improve how we deliver health services and improve the health outcomes of individuals. Creating a Civic Data Co-operative that combines anonymised social care and health data has the potential to be a very powerful tool for tackling some of the most important health issues we face today.

“Working together with colleagues in health and higher education and bringing to bear the creativity of our burgeoning digital skills sector, gives us the opportunity to create something that can lead the way in public health for city regions around the world.”

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:

“We already have significant strengths in health and life sciences and the digital and creative sector which this innovative project would marry together. This Civic Data Co-operative would be a radical new approach to public health. It has the potential to make a huge difference to the health and wellbeing of our city region at the same time as putting us at the forefront of a new sector that could generate significant numbers of high-quality jobs for local people.”

Professor Iain Buchan, Executive Dean of Population Health at the University of Liverpool and Director of Digital Strategy and Partnerships at Liverpool Health Partners, said:

“Our NHS, social care, housing and other public services that affect everyone’s health, are drowning in data, yet starved of information. Liverpool City Region Civic Data Co-operative will clean up anonymised data and provide new tools for secure data analysis to improve services.

“Residents are central to the Co-operative and will have a greater say in how their data is used. Local communities will work with NHS analysts, data scientists and health technology engineers – in finding new ways to improve healthcare and wellbeing, while keeping people’s data private. Our region is set to become a leader in data-driven health technology through co-operative, community-involved problem solving – improving health and creating jobs.”

Liverpool Health Partners brings together partners to work on issues of common interest, engaging with NHS Trusts and Higher Education Institutions across the Liverpool City Region to realise the benefits of research and education to improve population health and economic productivity. It is a partnership of 8 NHS Trusts, Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group and four higher education institutions: the University of Liverpool; Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine; Liverpool John Moores University; and Edge Hill University.

The Civic Data Co-operative will make the handling of patient data more secure than it is at present by putting additional governance procedures in place and allowing only trusted people and organisations to access the anonymised data within the region, under NHS supervision.

Case study: 

Margaret is an 81-year-old woman with problems walking and seeing due to her diabetes. She also has high blood pressure, kidney problems, lung problems and is on 7 different medicines. She copes well with support from her neighbour but feels isolated and low when her neighbour is away.

Current: She recently tripped over a fan-heater, feeling low and confused due to a urine infection, unmotivated to take her usual precautions:

  • She was admitted to hospital for a fractured hip, and her kidneys suffered further damage from infection and medicines.
  • She lost so much muscle during her stay in hospital she was unable to return home.
  • She was discharged to residential care.

Future: Roll-forward to an alternative future where Margaret’s data inform preventive actions:

Automatic analysis of Margaret’s GP and hospital data shows she needs a home risk-assessment, which is done quickly via a social worker supported by a locally produced app.

This triggers a home-care package including a prototype device from a Co-operative-supported company, which detects early that Margaret is not moving around as usual and asks her if she wants to speak to her contact in the Liverpool-cares-at-home service. The conversation cheers Margaret up and fast-tracks a nurse visit, with a urine sample analysed showing up an infection.

Co-operative-supported analysis of which antibiotics to use helps Margaret’s GP to select the right antibiotic to suit not only the bacterial infection but also how Margaret’s body usually responds – it also advises stopping another medicine that may damage her kidneys. Her home-care device reminds Margaret to drink more water.

She makes a recovery at home and is boosted further by the return of her neighbour.

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