The head of data and digital applications at North of England Care System Support (NECS) says she is “super proud” of her team for their work during the pandemic and beyond as she looks ahead to speaking at Rewired 2022.

I-Lin Hall spoke exclusively to Digital Health News, reflecting on the achievements of her team over the last few years and talking about her upcoming session at Digital Health Rewired next month.

NECS is a care system support organisation that works across the UK to support health and social care customers in meeting strategic and operational challenges to improve outcomes and increase efficiency.

The pandemic has brought about several challenges that the data and digital team at NECS have had to overcome, such as the sheer demand for data and the expectation this has placed on the team.

“As a care system support organisation and a data and digital service we provide services that enable analytics and intelligence that can drive transformation and service change or we support operational delivery through the development and deployment of our digital solutions,” I-Lin Hall told Digital Health News.

“We’re not providing direct patient and client care, but because everyone needs data, we were increasingly getting one step further and closer to operationally managing the pandemic on the ground at a local level.

“Managing the increase in the demand for data and the timeliness of it was both a challenge and really rewarding for the team to understand that all of this extra effort that we were putting in did make a difference and impact on care.”

Leading a team of around 100 people, Hall emphasised how appreciative she is of every person for how they went above and beyond to tirelessly work and respond to the pandemic.

She added: “I’m super proud of my team. Since the start of the pandemic, they’ve kept at it, worked out of hours and weekends during lockdown and out of lockdown to make sure local systems received the data they needed to manage their Covid response.

“Although they don’t feel like we’ve grown, we’ve done so much. The resilience and commitment they’ve provided to the NHS, and the local authorities is impressive.”

Looking ahead to Rewired 2022

Hall will be a keynote speaker on the AI and Data Stage at this year’s Rewired, in a session about ‘building trusted research environments’ alongside Mark Walsh, portfolio manager at Academic Health Science Networks for the North East and North Cumbria.

Taking place annually, the conference and exhibition brings together all parts of the digital health community to celebrate the best of digital, data and innovation in health and care. Hall plans to present the Axym platform, which was developed last year as the pandemic continued to swarm the NHS.

Axym is a cloud-based platform made up of secure data access environments focused on specific organisations or health and care systems in line with appropriate information governance. It will provide a private ring-fenced space to access and interrogate data.

All existing and future data feeds will flow into it, which will bring different organisations, including universities and third sector, from within the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS) and other areas that NECS support including Yorkshire and Humber, Derbyshire and Suffolk and North East Essex together.

Hall said: “When you’ve got different organisations within an ICS coming together, it’s quite difficult for them to use the same data source. There are information governance challenges and potentially organisational challenges.

“Organisations tend to take their cut of the data, make their own derivations on top of it, transform it into something else and then there is often debate on the data source and outputs.

“Axym as a service and as a product is aimed to resolve that so that you can have multi-organisational users working locally in the same secure environment using the same source data with the relevant information governance requirements in place.

“At Rewired we’ll be presenting our journey of how we got to where we are, what we have and some of our learning.”

Future is looking bright

The work that NECS has done in supporting health and social care customers during the pandemic has been crucial, and the future for the organisation looks bright. Last June, they were named as one of the partners to join the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme.

Founded in 2016, the programme aims to nurture healthcare innovators from across the country and help them gain the commercial skills, knowledge and experience to make their ideas become a reality.

NECS’ head of data and digital applications is looking ahead, with the hope of using past obstacles as a catalyst to achieve her team’s future ambitions.

I-Lin Hall said: “We will continue to innovate and support our ICS customers with their data and digital requirements. We will also provide the environment for my team to learn, fail fast, and more importantly learn from the failure to come back stronger and know that everything that they are doing is making a difference, not only to NECS but to other organisations in health and care.”

You can catch Hall’s Rewired session on 15 March 2022 over on the AI and Data Stage at 1.35pm. 

Taking place on March 15-16 at the Business Design Centre in London, Digital Health Rewired 2022 is a conference and exhibition which brings together all parts of the digital health community to celebrate the best of digital, data and innovation in health and care.

All the conference sessions will be CPD accredited.

You can register here to secure your place at Rewired 2022.