Discovery East London – Case study

What we did

Discovery East London is a clinical partnership programme first established in 2016 to create a linked dataset of real-time health across five boroughs: City of London, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.

The initiative was designed to share patient records seamlessly, improving the quality of the care experience across an area that has 20 per cent patient turnover each year, and a high rate of hospital-based care needs. Discovery also provides a way to understand the wider population health patterns in some of the most deprived parts of the country.

Ninety five per cent of GPs in the five boroughs have signed-up to the scheme, covering 1.2 million patients. GP records can be seen by staff in mental health services and hospitals. Doctors and other clinicians, can see summarised records of medications, diagnosis, investigations and other key information. Tower Hamlets is piloting data sharing with approved pharmacies. Clinical performance against chronic disease indicators is now amongst the best in the country.

What happened

The information provided by Discovery also helps us to understand what local populations need. In Tower Hamlets, anonymised health care datasets have been combined with ‘socio-economic patterns’ – information on where, and how people live and work – to map deprivation and morbidity outcomes across the borough. This means we have a much clearer understanding of health outcomes and we can use this information to decide where to allocate resources.

We also share the data with the National Cancer Registry, contributing to applied research on cancer care.

Clinicians report direct benefits from the access they have to vital clinical information about their patients, and say they are spending around 48 per cent less time on paperwork – saving £940,000 in the process. More than £130,000 was also saved by introducing improved shared technology for referrals.


  1. McBeth R, East London exchanges health information, Digital Health, September 2015. See also:
  2. Discovery East London – Linking data to improve health care, UCLPartners Academic Health Science Partnership, June 2018. See also:
  3. Fisher R, Collaborating for care: harnessing the power of data sharing across GP practices, The Health Foundation, September 2017. See also:
  4. Readman L, Wallis M, Muthuswamy R, and Dr. Khan A, East London Patient Record: Benefits study evaluation, East London Health & Care Partnership, 2018.

UPDATED: 01/08/2022