NHS Voices blogs

The power of co-creating transformation

While there are many challenges to overcome, the current NHS landscape also offers an opportunity for transformative ideas to come to the fore.
Vani Manja

12 June 2023

Cross-sectoral collaboration that harnesses the power of data can accelerate innovation to better serve patients and address health inequalities, writes Vani Manja of Boehringer Ingelheim UK and Ireland.


Boehringer Ingelheim is sponsoring the Sustainable Healthcare Theatre at NHS ConfedExpo in Manchester on 14 and 15 June.

While addressing health inequalities is a critical priority and much work is already underway across the NHS, the potential of data to assess the interplay of socioeconomic status, deprivation, discrimination against ethnic minorities, digital exclusion, and geography presents the greatest opportunity for transformative change.

People living in the most deprived areas of the UK are twice as likely to die from preventable causes. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D) is 60 per cent more common in the most deprived areas of England, and children living in areas of deprivation are nearly twice as likely to be overweight or obese at 11 years old compared to those living in the richest communities.

Bringing transformative ideas to the fore

Although there are many clear obstacles to overcome, the current landscape also offers an opportunity for transformative ideas to come to the fore, which is being encouraged at a national level. In March, the UK Science and Technology Framework outlined the approach to make the UK a science and technology superpower by 2030, while the recent £650 million Life Sci for Growth package reinforces the critical importance of the life sciences sector to the overall economy. However, funding alone will not solve all these issues.

…(the NHS)… under-exploits the potential of data for driving change

While the recent Hewitt review recognised the NHS as one of the best health systems in the world for collecting data, it also under-exploits the potential of data for driving change. Past underinvestment and limited utilisation of data to improve public health suggest the NHS will require further support from industry to make significant strides in this area. By working in partnership with organisations operating within and across communities, we have a great opportunity and a collective responsibility to accelerate innovation so that we may serve our patients better. There is scope to deliver place-based interventions that help to prevent ill health, better manage chronic health conditions, and improve patient access and outcomes.

Unless we transform the way we work, we cannot transform our model of health and care

Real change will happen when we work in the spirit of true collaboration and link the two critical determinants of health: health and social care. Unless we transform the way we work, we cannot transform our model of health and care and achieve the health and wellbeing we want for the communities we serve. 

Analysis of patient outcomes following hospitalisation with COVID-19 shows the presence of cardiometabolic disease and comorbidities on admission increased the risk of experiencing in-hospital cardiovascular complications and death. Further research highlighted that reductions in the diagnosis and monitoring of patients with T2D during the pandemic, which exacerbated COVID-19, now have important clinical and public health implications.

Data has shown that older individuals, men, and people from areas of high deprivation are most adversely affected and could represent specific groups to target for early intervention.

Collaboration in Greater Manchester

Greater Manchester (GM) represents a good example of cross-sectoral collaboration that harnesses data for insights into population health towards optimising, inter alia, disease pathways, clinical research, and patient care. It has some of the highest rates of health inequalities among patients, with mortality rates 25 per cent higher than anywhere else in the UK. The area was also deeply impacted by the pandemic, having seen the second highest cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in England.

The partnership between Health Innovation Manchester and Boehringer Ingelheim UK and Ireland aims to identify, using a machine learning algorithm, the system impact of COVID-19 on the cardiometabolic pathway, recognising opportunities for transformation. The partnership supports the ambition to adapt the NHS service model in the NHS Long Term Plan, specifically out-of-hospital care, redesign, and reduction of pressure on hospital services in those patients with T2D and cardiovascular disease.

…this collaboration provides a holistic understanding of the complexities of treatment pathways

The GM Care Record brings together patient information from NHS and care services across all ten Greater Manchester boroughs into one joined-up record that is easily accessible by frontline health and care workers at the point of care. As part of COVID-19 recovery, this collaboration provides a holistic understanding of the complexities of treatment pathways and creates a predictive tool to inform local policymaking, commissioning decisions and service redesign.

We know that the use of data and digital transformation is a maze of possibilities and challenges. It is therefore vital that we openly discuss, share learnings and come together in partnership to accelerate transformation.

Vani Manja Is UK country managing director at Boehringer Ingelheim UK and Ireland. You can follow Vani on LinkedIn.

NHS ConfedExpo

Boehringer Ingelheim is holding two panel sessions at NHS ConfedExpo in Manchester on 14 and 15 June, in the Sustainable Healthcare Learning Theatre:

  • 14 June - Can ICSs tackle health inequalities via specialised services?
  • 15 June - Do secure data environments offer the biggest potential to save lives?