University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust chooses to run new data hub on Microsoft Azure cloud

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) has chosen to host its Health Data Research Hub for Acute Care, PIONEER, on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.

UHB worked with Microsoft partner Ensono to develop the cloud-based infrastructure for the PIONEER hub, which will link data from various services across the West Midlands to help researchers and clinicians understand a patient’s acute care journey.

Acute care is defined as the provision of unplanned medical care, such as out of hours primary care, ambulance assessment, emergency medicine, surgery and intensive care

The aim of the hub is to generate insights from health data to create a more effective healthcare system. Clinical and research teams can access and learn from near-real-time, acute hospital data to answer urgent clinical questions, which could inform changes and improvements to current practice. This will help them identify critical triggers and bottlenecks where healthcare could be improved and adjusted, potentially supporting earlier diagnosis, new treatments and monitoring systems. It would shift acute care from being reactive to predictive; informing cutting-edge best practice to be shared rapidly across the NHS and beyond, and help improve the quality of care delivered to patients.

By using Azure, UHB ensures that all medical data is secure, kept in the UK and can be accessed by approved people 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Microsoft’s cloud is also highly scalable and flexible, so it can cope with increasing amounts of new data when it’s added to the hub.

Professor Elizabeth Sapey, a consultant in Acute and Respiratory Medicine at UHB and PIONEER Director, said: “110 million people per year seek acute care help, and the costs are huge: £17 billion per year. But despite this huge burden and cost, acute care has seen less healthcare innovation than any other area of healthcare. We hope that by bringing together this data from different providers across the country, we can offer innovation that’s never been seen before to really improve patients’ lives.”

UHB runs the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (which contains the largest critical care unit in Europe), Birmingham Chest Clinic, Heartlands Hospital, Good Hope Hospital, Solihull Hospital and various community services across the region. It also runs the largest solid organ transplantation programme in Europe and runs Umbrella, the sexual health service for Birmingham and Solihull.

Laura Robinson, Health and Life Sciences Lead at Microsoft UK, said: “Microsoft’s cloud, Azure, is already helping many public and private sector organisations to deliver services more effectively and meet the evolving needs of citizens. Azure’s security, 24/7 availability and advanced capabilities make it a strong choice for the healthcare sector, and we look forward to helping more NHS organisations use the cloud to transform ways of working how they work.”

Barney Taylor, managing Director for Europe at Ensono, added: “A full command of a patient’s journey will really help inform decision making for medical professionals on acute care pathways, particularly within the complexities of the current pandemic. We hope PIONEER will provide that integrated hub of data insights to allow clinicians to strategise care, provide better outcomes and ultimately more patient choice. This innovative solution had to be delivered in an agile and dynamic fashion, in response to an unprecedented, ever-changing situation on the frontline.”