Bradford & Craven

Bradford & Craven

Bradford and Craven CCG has always faced challenges when it comes to improving public health. The diverse population spread across a varied landscape presents difficulties for delivering connected healthcare. The region has significant health inequalities with higher than national average levels of alcohol misuse, diabetes, and deaths due to heart disease and stroke (Office National Statistics, 2009; APHO, 2012). This is exacerbated in inner city Bradford, which has high levels of deprivation and unemployment compared to the national average (HM Government, 2012).

However, when it comes to delivering healthcare, clinicians in Bradford and Craven are some of the most revolutionary in the country. The region has been at the forefront of delivering connected care since the late 1990s, when SystmOne was first implemented in the area to connect a single GP practice with a diabetes clinic via shared patient records. Going live with a centrally-hosted system reduced unnecessary admissions to secondary care by managing diabetes more effectively through primary care services, saving admin time and improving the quality of care that was delivered.

TPP has been a central part of healthcare in and around Bradford since then, with all 76 of the area’s GP practices now using SystmOne, as well as Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, Bradford District Care Foundation Trust, and Bradford Council. The final piece of the puzzle came together in 2019 when Bradford and Craven became the first CCG in England to connect physical and social care by implementing SystmOne in Bradford Adult & Community Services.

Dr Shahid Ali, a local GP, has been one of the clinicians instrumental in driving the change towards a more connected health system. “In our area we’ve recognised that connected care definitely makes a difference and we believe that comes from sharing the medical record,” says Dr Ali. “Patients need to be able to see their information through the course of a pathway.”

This commitment to an integrated health system is also reflected in the way clinicians are trained in the region. Every year 1500 students at the University of Leeds and 250 students at the University of Bradford are trained on SystmOne as part of their medical degree. This enforces the cultural change and shows a new way of approaching IT in healthcare.

Making use of shared care records to work more efficiently and improve patient care is essential in Bradford and Craven. However, they have been going a step further by using the wealth of health information collected from the population to identify patterns of poor health outcomes, and target groups at the highest risk. ‘Born in Bradford’ is one of the largest research studies in the world, tracking the health of over 30,000 residents over their lifetime to pinpoint key driving factors behind varying health outcomes.

The research programme began in 2007, and chose to use health records stored on SystmOne’s GP module, as the SystmOne coverage in the area was so high. Speaking to Digital Health in 2007, Professor John Wright, director of the Bradford Institute for Health Research, said, “The TPP connection is crucial to what we are trying to do … it means that all the information about the child can be recorded in one place. If we found out, for example, when a child gets asthma and we have consent from the family to look at the child’s record, we can then try to identify the cause.”

Using SystmOne records to not only document patient care, but also to drive research and improve health outcomes for its populace, speaks to Bradford and Craven’s commitment to a digital future of healthcare. This is reinforced by Bradford City District’s recent initiative, ‘People First: Digital First’, which outlines a roadmap towards improving healthcare through innovative digital technology. The initiative aims to encourage all health services in the region to work collaboratively and share information, working towards a shared goal of a tech-driven health improvement scheme.