A brand new informatics hub has been launched at Great Ormond Street Hospital to help drive the use of technology in healthcare.

The unit, called DRIVE (Digital, Research, Informatics and Virtual Environments) has been developed as part of a partnership between GOSH, University College London (UCL) and leading industry experts in technology, artificial intelligence and digital innovation.

Its aim is to revolutionise clinical practice and enhance the patient experience, not only for GOSH patients but across the wider NHS.

Dr Shankar Sridharan, clinical director of DRIVE and CCIO for GOSH, said: “The aim is to use technology and data to provide – safer, better (data driven) and kinder care that is clinician focussed and patient centred.

“DRIVE is the how and provides the capability to develop scalable solutions to improve healthcare.

“GOSH patients are digital natives which means they and their families are early adopters of technologies. They will naturally embrace the new devices and apps the unit develops.”

Project Fizzyo, which is helping researchers look at how physical activity and airway clearance relates to changes in the health of children with cystic fibrosis using chipped sensors inside airway clearance devices, is one of the projects DRIVE has been helping.

Also, the whole of GOSH has been recreated in a Minecraft world.

This means patients are able to virtually explore before they visit the hospital and virtually meet and befriend other patients who are at the hospital to help improve their patient experience.

When asked about how soon such projects could be introduced at GOSH, Neil Sebire, managing director of DRIVE, said it will be ‘fairly quickly’.

He added: “For something as simple as Minecraft, which is nearly ready, that can be built in a year.”

Supporting DRIVE is UCL’s Computer Science department and their UCL Industry Exchange Network.

Over 500 students a year work with industry partners to facilitate real work projects.

Last year there were over 70 student projects for the NHS, half of which were in the early stages of DRIVE’s development.

The DRIVE team has already been working with the likes of Arm, Barclays, Microsoft, NHS Digital, NTT DATA and Samsung.

Speaking prior to the launch event, Noel Hurley, vice president of strategy at Arm, called the project a ‘digital sandpit’ where innovators can try out a number ideas to see what works and what doesn’t.

GOSH, which is part of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust, announced in May 2018 that it was partnering up with Microsoft to develop artificial intelligent solutions.