Introducing PIONEER – Health Data Research Hub for Acute Care


By integrating information about how acutely unwell people access and use health services – such as from community health, the ambulance service and hospitals, PIONEER will allow innovative healthcare companies to develop, test and deliver advances in clinical care.

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 Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) 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 DIH 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.

“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.”
Elizabeth Sapey
Dr Elizabeth Sapey
Hub Director
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“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.”
Gary Price
Gary Price
Patient & Public Advisory Group Lead