Manchester NHS bodies begin using information exchange

Four hospital trusts and two CCGs are in early stages of using the DataWell Exchange for patient data

Half a dozen NHS organisations in Greater Manchester are beginning to use a healthcare information exchange platform under the DataWell project, one of its leading officials has told a conference.

Stephoscope on laptopDr Sarah Thew, innovation and user experience manager at the Greater Manchester Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), outlined the project’s progress at the King’s Fund Digital Health and Care Congress.

She said six bodies are now using the DataWell Exchange that facilitates the sharing of information: The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Central Manchester University Hospitals, University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust, Salford Royal Foundation Trust and Trafford and Salford Clinical Commissioning Groups. The four hospital trusts are contributing data, while at the moment the CCGs are consuming, but there are plans for them to add information.

The exchange has been built by AHSN on a software platform from US company LumiraDx and working with IBM and EY.

“There is no central data warehouse,” Thew said. “DataWell is an information exchange and data moves at the point of need.

“So if someone turns up in hospital as an emergency and we need to find the background information on them, the query goes across the exchange and tries to find all the information on that person from the organisations involved.”

Each of the organisations have their own server as part of the system and choose which information to place there.

Naming flexibility

They are not asked to change any of their naming conventions, but AHSN maps the data against international open data standards, taking account of when the same type of data has different names. It is currently working on the sharing of pathology datasets as the first step.

It does not expect the organisations to consume and display the information in a particular way; it can be displayed locally in the systems that their clinicians use.

AHSN has also set up an accelerator pipeline to encourage other organisations to begin using the exchange.

“We hope that DataWell will become background infrastructure rather demanding an important consideration to share data,” Thew said. “And we’re beginning to get some exciting projects through that pipeline, looking at social care, GPs sharing data, stroke audit and rehab.”

She added that work is also going on to test the sharing of information with other exchanges, notably the LPRES system for Lancashire. Many patients of CCGs in the north of the DataWell area receive secondary care in the county.

“We have similar sorts of shared records for Cheshire, Leeds, West Yorkshire and Lancashire, and we need to start thinking about what happens to patients as they move out of Manchester,” she said. “We’ve just started to do a little sharing of data with Lancashire to support patients based in Wigan.”

There are also plans for the development of an app for patients to view their records and see who has been viewing them.