Centre for Connected Health and Social Care

In January 2008 the Department of Health, Social Services and Personal Safety announced its intention to implement a regional remote telemonitoring service for people with severe chronic disease - congestive heart failure, diabetes, and COPD. The European Centre for Connected Health (ECCH) was then established and its first task was to lead the procurement on behalf of and in partnership with the five HSCTs and four Health and Social Services Boards in Northern Ireland (subsequently re-organised into the HSCB, PHA & BSO). This task involved:

a) generating a high level of stakeholder buy-in to the concept of remote telemonitoring

b) leading a service design process

c) conducting a large scale procurement process

Following an announcement on 6th Dec 2011 by the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety Edwin Poots MLA, the European Centre for Connected Health, Public Health Agency (PHA), will now be known as the Centre for Connected Health and Social Care, Public Health Agency.

The purpose of the Centre for Connected Health and Social Care remains the same - to improve the patient and client experience, and to provide better quality and more effective care. By supporting the more efficient delivery of services, it also enables the healthcare system to respond better to the future needs of the population.

The Centre for Connected Health and Social Care will continue to promote improvements in patient care through the use of technology and fast-track new products and innovation in the Health and Social Care system in Northern Ireland. Connected Health is a term used to describe a model for healthcare delivery that uses technology to provide healthcare remotely, and to allow patients more freedom to lead their own lives. The aim is to optimise the use of healthcare resources and provide increased, flexible opportunities for patients to engage with clinicians and to better self-manage their care.

Speaking after the announcement, Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive, PHA, said: "These developments reflect the pursuit of innovation within Health and Social Care for the ultimate benefit of patients. The Centre for Connected Health and Social Care's established role in this work means it is perfectly placed to contribute to the continued modernisation of the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care system. The Centre will continue to identify and test connected Health and Social Care technologies, encourage innovation, and play a key role in the areas of research and economic development opportunities."

Eddie Ritson, Centre for Connected Health and Social Care Programme Director, added: "The rebranding reinforces the opportunities which exist to introduce new technologies across the provision of both Health and Social Care. The Centre will bring forward and seek to fast-track the widespread application of new ways of working. There is a need to change the way in which we provide Health and Social Care services, and there is an opportunity for us to benefit from what technology offers in supporting professionals in the delivery of modern and person-centred services." h