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South Yorks digital hub aims to tackle health inequality



A new digital healthcare hub has been launched in South Yorkshire.

Led by the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University, the £4 million South Yorkshire Digital Health Hub aims to improve peoples’ health and quality of life by creating innovative digital health tools that fuse data from daily life activities with NHS data.

The new centre together partners from across the region including hospitals, GPs, mental health services, businesses, the South Yorkshire Integrated Care System and patient and public groups.

The hub develop technologies to address the stark health inequalities across South Yorkshire and lead the UK in the evolving digital health sector.

Director of the South Yorkshire Digital Health Hub, Professor Tim Chico from the University of Sheffield’s School of Medicine and Population Health, said: “Accurate and early diagnosis is crucial for the prevention and treatment of disease.

“Digital data collected by technologies in our daily lives, such as the number of steps we walk, or the number of hours we sleep, is an unused source of information.

“Integrating this with routine healthcare data such as treatments, medication or hospital procedures can lead to healthier lives and better care for patients.

“This personalised approach could also reduce costs for the NHS.”

South Yorkshire has among the worst health outcomes in the country, with life expectancy lagging behind the national averages and cancer outcomes the third worse in England.

The region also faces challenges in care access as well as poor health infrastructure.

Tackling inequality is at the core of the South Yorkshire Digital Health Hub’s mission, it said in a press release.

The hub will use cutting-edge data analytics, AI and mobile health monitoring to diagnose diseases earlier and make treatment more targeted and effective.

Oliver Coppard, Mayor of the South Yorkshire Combined Authority, said: “I am determined to tackle health inequalities in South Yorkshire.

“We know that a baby born today in Rotherham will, on average, die five years earlier than a baby born on the same day in the London Borough of Richmond.

“That is a personal tragedy and a national travesty.

“Worse, it holds us all back: the health of our economy is dependent on the health of our communities.

“I’m delighted to see partners from our universities and the NHS working together to create a better approach to early diagnosis, prevention and treatment of illness – using the digital tools that we all have in our pockets.”

“South Yorkshire has the chance to be a leader and an example to the country in tackling these health inequalities.

“That is why the launch of the Digital Health Hub is so important: it shows that we have the talent, the ambition and the capacity to take action ourselves.

“We cannot wait for others to fix the problem for us.”


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