Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has launched a Digital Collaboration Space within its Paddington Life Sciences development to boost health data-enabled research.

Located in Paddington, north west London, the space houses the digital health team from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Imperial Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), a partnership between the trust and Imperial College London.

The team is providing state-of-the-art management and analysis of the huge amount of health data routinely collected across Imperial College Healthcare’s five hospitals. It will collaborate with the wider North West London Integrated Care System on a complementary data set from a diverse population of 2.4 million people.

The space is also being used to encourage and host research collaborations between clinicians, academics, data scientists and partners from industry and local communities.

Dr Erik Mayer, NIHR Imperial BRC digital health team leader, said: “There is increasing demand for health data-enabled research, but the challenge for researchers, clinicians and industry is how to navigate the NHS data sets available and at a speed that helps us rapidly to translate research into better care.

“Through our new Digital Collaboration Space, we want to build awareness and understanding of the power of data to improve health and healthcare, bringing in additional funds and ideas to create even more benefit for patients.”

Dr Mayer also said that his team are “committed to increasing diversity and inclusion in clinical research”, more specifically focussing on “how digital tools can help facilitate this”.

Expanding the use of health data in research

The NIHR Imperial BRC digital health team play a significant role in boosting health data-enabled research while offering secure and managed access to de-identified NHS data. Specialist data scientists curate and organise complex, mixed data sets to answer questions as effectively as possible.

They can also build understanding of how clinical staff use new digital tools, which is important for testing and evaluating their effectiveness.

Professor Tim Orchard, chief executive at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Our hospitals have a long track record in research and innovation. As we embark on our biggest ever BRC five-year funding programme, we are now entering into a new era of discovery, powered by data and collaboration.”

He added: “ The new Digital Collaboration Space, and Paddington Life Sciences more widely, are enabling us to improve not just healthcare but also health and wellbeing, creating synergies that will boost education, skills development and employment opportunities in some of the most deprived areas of the UK.”

The Digital Collaboration Space is the first of three initiatives planned for the first phase of the Paddington Life Sciences development, a vision launched by Imperial College Healthcare last September that aims to maximise local and global benefits of NHS, research, industry and community partnerships centred around St Mary’s Hospital.

Away from this vision, the trust has placed great importance on increasing its digital capabilities over the last few years. Back in 2021 it teamed up with remote healthcare innovator Luscii to provide heart failure patients with the ability to self-monitor vitals at home.