Health Informatics

Demand for health and care continues to rise. New technologies such as digital therapeutics, wearables, artificial intelligence, genomics, and personalised medicine, offer the solution to transform how health and care are delivered, but these benefits can only be realised at scale if we are routinely joining up data across organisations.

Patients and the public increasingly understand the connection and value that their data has to improve not only their own health and care, but also that of their families and society as a whole. The potential benefits are recognised, but information about our health is sensitive and personal, and there are understandable concerns about privacy, real-world impacts if the wrong people are given access, and commercial use without delivering public or societal benefit.

This is why the focus of our Health Informatics team is to help build and develop Secure Data Environments to bring data together with the tools that clinicians, researchers and innovators need to maximise the utility of data, whilst keeping it secure and protecting people’s privacy.

What is Health Informatics?

Health informatics is the science of how we collect, analyse and use data to generate information and intelligence to improve people’s health.

It can enable better collaboration and coordination among healthcare providers, improve cost-efficiency in healthcare delivery and increase accuracy and efficiency.

By safely and accurately joining up data across organisations, health and care professionals have easy access to the information they need to make the best informed decisions at the point of care, we can ensure services are designed for the population they serve, and located where they are most need. Health Informatics enables us to improve our understanding of the mechanisms of diseases, and how individuals respond to treatments over time – helping to ensure patients get the best treatment for them faster, and helping researchers identify new treatment and drug targets.

Our specialist expertise and capabilities

The Health Informatics team at Health Innovation East have specialist skills in delivering programmes of work that include providing secure environments for storing and accessing health and other sensitive data to support health and care delivery, research, and innovation.

In addition to handling projects for external stakeholders, the Health Informatics team can offer a range of technical expertise such as data and information analysis, interpretation and insight, advice and guidance on IT platforms and storage, technical delivery, optimisation and much more.

Our capabilities include:

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Programme Management and Operations

Project & operations management for complex health & ‘omic data projects

Deep understanding of the ethics, governance and legal frameworks surrounding the use of health data for research

Stakeholder engagement and requirements gathering

Blue outline of a computer with data on the screen, a magnifying glass is held over the data.

Data Management and Service Delivery

Data analysis

Service delivery and technical support packages

Data visualisation & bespoke dashboard builds

Design & build of databases to house sensitive data

Design & build of bespoke cloud Secure Data Environments

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Bioinformatics Support


Docker containers

Genomic analysis

Optimising analytical pipelines for the cloud

Our experience

East of England Sub-national Secure Data Environment (SDE)

Part of NHS Research Secure Data Environment Network

On behalf of the East of England NHS Region (comprising six Integrated Care Systems), and working with Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust , we worked in partnership with Cambridge University Health Partners (CUHP), to secure £10 million of funding over two years to design, build, and operate the East of England NHS Secure Data Environment to leverage routinely collected health data and accelerate research. Our team continue to support this work by providing operational leadership, delivery, technical expertise and a service delivery team to build the environment and make it available for use.

Find out more about the NHS England Secure Data Environment.


CYNAPSE is a transformational computational infrastructure providing systematic, standardised data storage and a secure cloud-based research environment to facilitate discovery and translational research, with federation capabilities for NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (BRC)

Our Health Informatics team worked with Professor Serena Nik Zainal, NIHR Cambridge BRC and University of Cambridge, to help realise her vision of CYNAPSE as a secure cloud platform to support end to end storage, management and processing of omic data to meet the needs of researchers across the BRC.

We gathered user and technical requirements, undertook a landscape review of potential solution providers, and then supported selection, contracting, and mobilisation of the platform.

We  provided cloud migration and data optimisation support, pipeline builds, operational management, and facilitated Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) in the development of the platform and its management.

Read more about our involvement

Gut Reaction

Gut Reaction is a unique, secure data resource designed to facilitate academic and industry research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), which brings together genomic and phenotypic data from patients in the IBD BioResource with real-world data from participating NHS Hospitals and other national datasets.

The project built on the consent given to the IBD BioResource from patients to access their health records and link it with the genomic data they provided, allowing access to researchers for approved studies and facilitate translational researcher.

Our team performed the operations and programme management office functions for Gut Reaction, forging strong relationships with the wider Trusted Research Environment (TRE) community for the Health Data Research Hub for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

Read more about our involvement here


Part of the Data and Analytics Research Environments UK (DARE UK) programme run by HDR UK. We supported two of the seven phase 1: A proof-of-concept project to demonstrate federation capability between the research environments of CYNAPSE and Genomics England; A project developing federated analytics and AI research across Trusted Research Environments for adolescent mental health.

Rare Diseases Sprint

We supported the collaboration between the NHS, academia and industry led by Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to deliver a discoverable, de-identified, integrated clinical, phenotypic and genomic data resource and make it available in a secure cloud research environment to address an initial proof of concept use case.

Patient and public involvement and engagement

We have ensured a strong patients and public involvement stream is woven throughout all health data projects we have worked on, striving for transparency and to increase public trust in the use of data for research. We leverage relationships with existing patient groups to ensure this work can start from the very beginning of the project.

Docker containerisation

We developed containers for tools to support the DERMATLAS project and related code provided as a GitHub repositories, public/private as per requests, with appropriate pipelines and checks to protect against secret exposure. Containers are automatically generated based on branch merge and release actions to minimise any manual steps.




We have developed bespoke monitoring and mapping dashboards for a range of clients. Examples include a regional eating disorders services dashboard and interactive dashboard taking remote monitoring feeds of care home NEWS2 scores using WHZAN technology.

The genomic medicine theme of the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) sought to improve clinical research data infrastructure and we commissioned Health Innovation East to project manage the building of a common data architecture so that genomic and other biological data could be effectively and safely shared across the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. For the resulting project, called CYNAPSE, Health Innovation East scoped what would be needed, what it might cost and how it could be delivered. Having supported the procurement of a suitable software platform the team are now working with the providers (Lifebit) to develop the features and capabilities required to make it all work for a small initial number of research groups which will be scaled over the coming months.

Health Innovation East’s expertise in helping to find solutions for complex health data challenges has been instrumental to the project’s success to date. This work has the potential to revolutionise research in Cambridge and beyond.

Professor Serena Nik-Zainal, NIHR Research Professor and Honorary Consultant in Clinical Genetics, University of Cambridge

Health Innovation East can play a leading role in supporting your digital and data capabilities

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