Enabling Meaningful Collaboration Across Digital Health and Care – HETT North 2024 Highlights

Manchester Conference Centre

Colleagues from across health and social care, academia, research and industry came together to discuss the challenges and opportunities of digital transformation at the second HETT North show which took place at Manchester Central on 28th February 2024. 

Here are our highlights from the show: 

Rediscovering the patient journey: Bridging the gap across the health and care ecosystem 

“The onus is on providers to promote digital inclusion and encourage patients to actively take part in their own care.” Dr. Chris Nortcliff, GP, GP digital lead and part of the Greater Manchester Primary Care Provider Board delivery team 

In this session, Chris Nortcliff talked about “filling information chasms” for patients who generally only recall 30% of conversations as they’re stressed and unwell when they visit a GP. By using services such as the NHS app, appointments, referrals, and test results are all accessible, along with explanations of whether a result is normal.   

There has been a recent leap forward for primary care digital communications in Greater Manchester. A team of 16 Digital Facilitators are visiting practices across the region to encourage use of digital tools that save time for practices and patients. This face-to-face engagement has made a huge difference to people who didn’t know these services were available, or how to access them digitally, commenting, “People need to have the skills, confidence and connectivity for digital inclusion to become a reality”. 

Chris also encouraged patient engagement with symptom diagnosis. “Obviously there is some misinformation online”, he said, “but I encourage my patients to Google away! I want to have a dynamic partnership with informed patients. Digital and technology supports this.” 

Read Chris’s blog on the transformation of primary care in Greater Manchester here 

Personal Down to Your DNA: The Future Role of Pharmacogenomics in the NHS 

Bringing together a varied panel with diverse expertise led to an insightful discussion addressing the future of genomics in personalising healthcare. 

John McDermott (NIHR Research Fellow – Division of Evolution, Infection and Genomics), Jude Hayward (Primary Care Lead, National Genomics Education), Eliska Collier (Founder & Creative Director, Light Sauce Studio) joined Chair Videha Sharma (Clinical Innovation Lead – Pankhurst Institute Manchester) for an exciting Q&A session. Pharmacogenetics is the study of how genetic variation can lead to different responses to certain medicines. This can therefore help clinicians make more informed decisions at the point of care and understand which patients are unlikely to respond to certain drugs and which genetic variations can lead to adverse drug reactions. 

Based at the pioneering Manchester Centre for Genomic Medicine (MCGM) of the Oxford Road innovation corridor, John outlined the key benefits of how pharmacogenetics is transforming healthcare using new technologies to personalise medicine, improve diagnosis and predict response to drugs. One pathway is currently looking at stroke patients, using pharmacogenetic testing to identify a particular gene and tailor treatment accordingly.  This therefore has the potential for significant cost savings for the NHS through safer prescribing as well as improving health outcomes.  

Dr Jude Hayward talked about how Pharmacogenomics can be used at population and individual level to better help our NHS Resources. Discussion led onto the interoperability of various NHS systems tackling some of the barriers and hurdles. To overcome these challenges, we need to ensure robust data governance, that the data is easy for clinicians to access and interpret at the point of care.  

Building on current trends such as tailored social media adverts, Eliska highlighted the patient experience and the need for empowering the patient with personalised services. 

The audience left with great anticipation on the potential groundbreaking scalability of pharmacogenetics across Greater Manchester and nationally which will significantly transform the future of healthcare outcomes.  

Both John and Videha are members of the GM Health Innovation Accelerator DEVOTE leadership team. Find out more about the Health Innovation Accelerator here  


Creating a Digitally Forward NHS: What Could Future Digital NHS Job Roles Look Like 

Gareth Thomas, Digital Innovation Director at Health Innovation Manchester, chaired a panel looking at what future digital jobs in the NHS could look like. Building on the experiences of the panel from diverse range of job roles and backgrounds, the panel discussed their different journeys into digital, the lessons learned on the way and what this means for the crucial digital roles for the future. 

A particular focus of discussion was the need for digital to release time to care and prevent repetition for both patients and clinicians.  

Equality of opportunity was also discussed and ensuring the digital teams of the future have diversity at their heart. Not only to improve capability, but also evidence suggests that diverse teams are more productive teams. Kumbi Kariwo, Equality and Inclusion Project Lead, Birmingham Community Health Care Foundation Trust on talked about the importance of diversity in driving digital change “Having diversity of thought at the table filters down to services…if you can see it, you can be it and that’s how change starts” 


Panel discussion: Robust Data Governance to Enable Progress on Data Collection, Storage and Sharing Across Boundaries

Jenny Spiers, Head of Information Governance at Health Innovation Manchester, chaired a panel looking at managing data governance across boundaries. It was great to hear from those who have worked to improve processes around data collection and sharing across boundaries, exploring the challenges around aligning with other areas to share patient data, including Helen Gillivan,  SRO – Adult Social Care and Health – Kent County Council/Kent ICB, Jonathan Bevan EPMA Lead Pharmacist – The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Ijeoma Azodo Associate Director, Health and Clinical Service Design – NHS Education for Scotland Technology Service, Jonathan Gregory Honorary Research Fellow – Computational Oncology Group, Imperial College London and Hils Poole Strategic IG Consultant – Inzight 

Roundtable Session from the Health Innovation Network: Addressing Health Inequalities Through Digital and Data

“Digital exclusion is more complicated than we think, and we need to tackle it as a whole system, not just as the NHS.”Richard Stubbs, Chair of the Health Innovation Network, CEO of Health Innovation Yorkshire and Humber   

Leaders from across the northern health and care system and explored the role of digital and data in addressing health inequalities – with the aim of sharing learnings and creating a list of recommendations that can be shared nationally.   

Laura Rooney, Director of Strategy at Health Innovation Manchester, chaired a lively discussion that covered trust, accessibility, capability, accountability and the risk of widening health inequalities by focusing on digital. However, examples of projects were shared where the use of digital and data can directly address existing health inequalities. 

Victoria Vaines, Project Manager from Health Innovation Yorkshire and Humber, and Gareth Thomas, Digital Innovation Director at Health Innovation Manchester, gave real world examples of operational and strategic digital initiatives happening in the respective regions to reduce health inequalities. This includes the work Victoria is conducting with data from the deprived communities in West Yorkshire to understand healthcare utilisation and how services can be reshaped to best support those communities. Gareth gave the strategic example of how Greater Manchester’s Health & Care Digital Transformation is specifically being shaped to address the challenges of inequality. 

Find out more about Greater Manchester’s Health & Care Digital Transformation Strategy here.  

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