Centres of Global Digital Health Excellence

Here at Salus Digital, we’ve reported on various digital health programs and competitions recently, many involving NHS England in regard to digital healthcare development for the UK and the NHS.

The latest running competition is aimed at 26 invited Healthcare Trusts from four main regions in the UK (North, Midland and East, London and South). These selected trusts, according to the NHS England, have a certain level of achievement already established in digital healthcare, as demonstrated by the digital health solutions currently used in their health systems. These solutions include the following: Cerner millennium, Epic, TrakCare, Emis, TPP, IMS Maxims, System C Medway, and Allscripts. The trusts also measured up against the so-called, NHS’s digital maturity self-assessment index – though not all of the invited trusts were also the top 26 on that index.

The competition, will see some of them share a £100 million pot and around 10-16 winners are to receive up to £10 million each in order to assist them to build up their infrastructure further to become a “centre of global digital health excellence” and to share in global connections as suggested by NHS England’s overview of the competition.

The rationale of the competition is to roll out solutions in acute care initially and to focus on 3 main areas:

  • Comprehensive use of electronic patient records – making patient records available to doctors and nurses in real time for documentation of observations and assessments, granting patients online access to their medical records, and use of electronic medicines management which can halve medication errors.
  • Information sharing across the local health and care system – digital correspondence and test results for patients and online medical record and care plan sharing between health and care teams.
  • Robust data security –  a plan to respond to threats to data security with senior accountability and fully supported operating systems throughout their organization.

These areas have already been partially funded for by the 2020’s £1.3 billion encouraging the change to paperless forms of patient health records as was provided by Jeremy Hunt in February this year. In addition, the winning trusts are expected to disseminate new knowledge and beneficial solutions throughout the rest of the system as a requirement of the competition. According to Professor Keith McNeil – Chief Clinical Information Officer at NHS England – a wider dissemination of digitally improved solutions has yet to be made:

“We need to move faster in getting clinicians real time access to accurate information and joining up healthcare systems to improve outcomes for patients and reduce workload for doctors, nurses and other NHS staff. Our aim here is to create a national movement in which the centres of global digital excellence will be core.”

In addition to this, according to Paul Rice, Head of Technology Strategy at NHS England:

“We have a set of acute providers who are class leading in England when it comes to optimising digital technology. This benefits their clinicians, their patients and the wider community they serve. By stepping up to become world class they can join the most digitally advanced healthcare organisations across the globe and help deliver a sustainable and transformed NHS.”

It is indeed important that all the winners collaborate to improve healthcare inequalities that are affecting those less successful trusts in the NHS through the suggested “shared learning” remit of the competition, so as to ensure patient healthcare provision improves to a similar standard across the rest of the UK. In order to manage this however, £10 million may not go far enough – but it is at least another step in the right direction.

The winners are to be announced at the “NHS Health and Care Innovations Expo” in the second week September this year.


Syeeda Farruque

Syeeda Sanchita Farruque has an MBBS in Medicine from the UK and has worked in health promotion for a specialist registered charity: BAPAM (The British Association for Performing Arts Medicine) which tied in her many years as a performing and recording artist with health promotion education. Having been in a band that supported Sting in his Brand New Day tour in 2000 representing a high point in her performing career, she has returned to healthcare by completing her Msc in Health Informatics at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and is currently looking for meaningful work in value-based personalised and precision medicine. Her focus is to harness her abilities to be part of the team that moves solutions forward, safely and effectively, so that patients - the heart of the issue - can benefit the most

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