Lead organisation: University of Birmingham
Hub Director: Dr Elizabeth Sapey, email: E.Sapey@bham.ac.uk

Acute care is a catastrophic NHS burden, complex in scope but rich in innovation opportunities.

Each year the NHS provides 110 million urgent patient contacts, with numbers of people seeking unplanned medical help and admission to hospital rising. Current healthcare systems struggle to meet demand, causing long delays in emergency departments and difficulty accessing primary care services. Emergency admissions costs are vast; £17billion in 2017.

Despite extraordinary demand and cost, acute care has seen fewer advances in how patients access medical help; the medical assessments they undergo; the therapies they receive; and how patients are monitored compared to other areas of healthcare. This lack of innovation reflects the lack of integrated information we have about people during acute illnesses.

The PIONEER Hub will collect, connect and curate health data when adults and children become acutely unwell from community health teams, the ambulance service and hospitals across Birmingham as well as acute care data from >150 NHS hospitals and sudden deaths in the community across the UK. The PIONEER Hub will allow innovative healthcare companies to develop, test and deliver new ways of caring for acutely unwell people, in partnership with NHS service providers and health researchers.

Dr Elizabeth Sapey – Managing Director of Clinical Research Facility, Lead for Acute Medicine Research and Reader in Respiratory Medicine, the University of Birmingham, and Hub Director said:

“One of the greatest threats facing the NHS is the failure to meet demand for acute care – which is any unplanned healthcare contact, such as visiting A&E. Through a broad Midlands NHS and University partnership, we will develop a bespoke, curated database of all patient interactions with acute care providers, which will be used in two ways – firstly, to provide accurate, real-time data for capacity planning and improving patients’ experience.

“Secondly, it will create a complete map of innovation need from which we can identify areas for research and development of new diagnostics, therapeutics and digital health interventions. Essentially, the PIONEER hub will close the health data loop from home, to community services, to hospital services, to the community.”

Gary Price, Public & Patient Advisory Group (PPAG) Lead, said:

“Due to the very nature of ‘accident and emergency’, accessing acute care is often a stressful experience for patients. By being able to collate data on a vast scale, the PIONEER hub will help improve services for people in need, and our large and experienced PPAG team will ensure that every development has patient experience at its core.

“In parallel, our PPAG will ensure complete safety and security of patient data, building public confidence and trust in our management of the database and the research that results from it. The voice of patients will be heard at every stage.”

Partners involved in PIONEER: University of Birmingham (lead organisation) | Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust | Birmingham Children’s Hospital | Sandwell General Hospital | Society for Acute Medicine | West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust | Insignia Medical Systems Ltd | Microsoft | Birmingham Out of Hours Research Database | Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham | Birmingham Heartlands Hospital | Good Hope Hospital | Solihull Hospital | Birmingham Women’s Hospital | Birmingham City Hospital | Rowley Regis Hospital | OCHA Database