University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust


Publication date:
April 01, 2022

UCLH will partner with University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust on a major digital health initiative in which researchers use data collected from acute care settings to improve patient care.

Acute care is the provision of unplanned medical care, from after-hours primary care, ambulance assessment, emergency medicine, to surgery and intensive care. It is traditionally a difficult area to research on a large scale, but also a national priority area for patient care.

Through this work, UCLH will become a key partner in a health data research program in the United Kingdom (HDR UK) called PIONEER, the Center for Health Data Research for Acute Care, led by the UHB.

PIONEER is an ethically approved research partnership that collects and curates acute care patient data across the health economy, including primary, secondary, social care and ambulance services for support research.

This critically important anonymized database and partnership provides valuable information to enable innovative healthcare organizations to develop, test and deliver advances in acute clinical care and patient and public representatives are at the heart of the work undertaken by PIONEER with robust processes in place to protect patient data.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for greater volumes of accurate, real-time patient data to support rapid learning and investigation of new diagnoses and treatments for acute care has become even more vital.

Adding UCLH to the partnership will allow HDR UK PIONEER to further develop its patient data set, accelerate innovation in acute care to support the development of new knowledge that delivers better patient care than we serve.

In a project of the partnership, researchers will gain insight into data on the microbial causes of infection and the use of antibiotics. This vital work will improve antibiotic stewardship and help reduce antibiotic resistance, preserving the antibiotics we need for the future.

In another project, health data from the early stages of an unplanned or emergency admission to the two trusts will help develop new tools to identify those most at risk of health deterioration. The strength of this partnership ensures that data from people from communities underserved by research is included in the analysis and will therefore benefit from the results.

PIONEER and UCLH both use a Data Trust Board, where patients and members of the public oversee all data sharing decisions. The partnership will bring together these public contributors, to ensure that all data sharing decisions are supported by the public, with patient benefit at the heart of every decision made.

Researchers will use the data in accordance with widely implemented international standards, which will pave the way for more partners in the future and enable research with other national and international sites.

Professor Bryan Williams, Director of Research at UCLH and primary care physician, said: “This partnership between leading institutions in London and Birmingham builds on the legacy of our strong working partnership throughout of the Covid pandemic. Acute medical care is highly valued by patients and is a key area of ​​NHS activity, but has received too little research attention. We want to solve this problem and this partnership with our colleagues in Birmingham will transform our ability to obtain rapid and innovative information, to further improve care and patient outcomes in acute medical settings across the NHS. It is also important that patients and the public are at the center of this partnership, guiding our safe use of data, through our Data Trust Board.

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) Chief Medical Officer Professor Simon Ball said: ‘This is a fantastic example of how two digitally mature NHS trusts can work together to improve the care we provide. to our patients. This enables us to work to combine the strength of our NHS partnership with the strength of our supporting academic institutions. PIONEER offers a dataset that will enable efficient and rapid innovation. With a larger and broader data set, patterns, trends, and breakthroughs can be accelerated. This expanded partnership with UCLH will allow us to do just that at a time when the health service needs it most. »

Chief Innovation Officer, UHB, Tim Jones said: “Demand for acute healthcare services is at record levels, traditional approaches to innovation will not meet the scale and speed at which the Change will be needed to meet this demand, but despite this there has been less innovation in acute care than in many other areas across all health services.

Professor Elizabeth Sapey, Director of the HDRUK PIONEER Hub, and Consultant in Acute and Respiratory Medicine at UHB, said: “As a doctor working in a busy emergency admissions unit, I have seen from my own eyes how siled health data is slowing our ability to transform health care for people when they suddenly feel unwell. This exciting partnership brings together the significant expertise of UCLH and UHB. Unlocking this combined health data and providing clear public oversight of how this data is used will lead to real benefits for patients.

HDR UK PIONEER is linked to the NIHR Biomedical Research Centers (BRCs) at Birmingham and UCLH and can therefore use BRC infrastructure and experimental medicine approaches to enhance innovations to scale acute care delivery for the benefit of patients.

PIONEER is part of a network of hubs which are centers of excellence with expertise, tools and knowledge to maximize insights and innovations developed from health data and is funded by Medical Research Committee (MRC) – part of UK Research and Innovation.


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