University of Salford appoints inspirational clinician to lead Digital Health Strategy

Dr Shahid Ali to lead transformation of health services and pathways to improve quality of care, health outcomes and productivity for the NHS

Dr Shahid Ali

The University of Salford has ambitious plans to become a world centre of excellence in patient-centred care utilising innovations in digital technology.

Its Digital Health Strategy, within its wider Digital Futures Programme, has been developed by Dr Shahid Ali, the iniversity’s first Professor of Digital Health, who was appointed last year.

Digital health is the future of healthcare and enables people to use technologies to interact with their healthcare provider, remain well, prevent disease, and manage their long-term conditions and last years of life

Digital health can enable transformation of health services and pathways to improve quality of care, health outcomes and productivity for the NHS.

Professor Shahid Ali, a high-calibre, inspirational, experienced and skilled clinical leader, is also a practising GP in Bradford specialising in diabetes and heart disease. He has established a national and international reputation in how digital innovations such as telemedicine and a self-care digital platform can give people with long term conditions more control over their own health and healthcare.

Professor Ali has also held senior research fellow posts at the universities of Leeds and Bradford and has worked as a part-time clinical senior lectureship in Leeds. In addition, he was chairman of the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit programme in Yorkshire and Humber; provided advice to ministers through the National Steering Group for research, education and training; and is co-founder of Dynamic Health Systems, a company that has designed a self-care platform for people with long-term conditions which is scalable to millions of patients.

He said: “Digital health is the future of healthcare and enables people to use technologies to interact with their healthcare provider, remain well, prevent disease, and manage their long-term conditions and last years of life.

“Innovation in digital health has enabled engagement and personalisation of care by placing people at the heart of healthcare, rather than building systems and products and then trying to get people to use them. Understanding the cultural change needed for adoption and diffusion of innovation and new technologies can enable the large-scale change needed in the NHS.

“At a time when the NHS is working under extreme pressure, enabling patients to help themselves by using technology has been shown to free up clinical time, and improve the patient experience and health outcomes.”

At a time when the NHS is working under extreme pressure, enabling patients to help themselves by using technology has been shown to free up clinical time, and improve the patient experience and health outcomes

Over the past year Professor Ali’s team has developed working relationships with the acute Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, Salford Clinical Commissioning Group, Salford City Council, Greater Manchester Academic Health Sciences Network, Microsoft, Virgin Care, MedeAnalytics , and iHealth Labs. His team is also working towards implementing an MSc in Digital Health.

He said: “We are building the Digital Health Programme with a clear focus on patient-centred care to enable the university to become an international centre of excellence.

“With rich skills, expertise, a forward-thinking vision and facilities, Salford University provides an ideal environment to innovate and produce world class solutions for patient-centred care using digital health. It’s an opportunity to completely transform the patient experience.

“I’m providing strategic leadership by building a team, researching, applying for grants and forging relationships with the NHS and industry. Innovations will be tested in the digital health suite and then deployed at scale in Salford. We will work with the local populations, NHS leaders, clinicians and industry to improve healthcare and health outcomes for the people of Salford, the NHS and beyond.”

Professor Maggie Pearson, pro vice chancellor for public benefit and dean of the College of Health and Social Care, added: “Professor Ali brings extensive clinical experience, rooted in his every day practice and passion to improve the health and care outcomes. He will give strategic leadership to our digital health agenda, and to our multi-professional team drawn from disciplines and professions across the university.”

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