Giving children the best start in life through digital

The Early Years digitisation project is a huge step forward for our city-region and will hugely boost our aim of giving children in Greater Manchester the best possible start in life. We've started by developing an ‘Early Years’ app that digitises the paper-based assessments currently used to review a child’s development up to the age of 2.5 years.

What is the early years app?

The Early Years App provides parents and carers of children across Greater Manchester with a digital application to complete assessments that are currently paper-based and ensures that parents and carers have access to both completed assessments and other supporting information completed by the professional and gives the user much more control over their own data.

The app is currently being used in Bury and Rochdale and can be deployed in other Greater Manchester localities. Please contact the team to discuss using the app in your area.

Early Years digitisation will see streamlined systems connect hundreds of Greater Manchester professionals such as health visitors and school health services with parents and carers, enabling them to work together to better support families. It is the first part of our wider digital platform that aims to ensure that digital access to public services is integrated and user-friendly.

Cllr Andrew Western, GMCA Lead for Digital, Work and Skills said: "In Greater Manchester we are dedicated to investing in digital transformation that benefits our residents. The new Early Years Application is helping to join-up our public services to help parents and carers access the support they need quickly and efficiently."

This work will also pave the way for other public service areas to digitally transform the service citizens receive, by digitising paper-based forms, joining up different parts of the system and sharing information safely and securely.

The Early Years Application is hosted on Greater Manchester’s Digital Platform, an advanced technology solution that allows data from multiple sources to be re-used by a variety of systems, allowing health and public sector professionals to use and share accurate and appropriate information at a quicker pace.

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The benefits

  • Increase capacity of heath visiting (approx. 30% based on pilot). Evidence suggests an average of 118.4 minutes saved per visit (integrated solution vs. stand alone solution)
  • Provides professionals accessible and mobile data (currently paper records) 
  • Better commissioning - public health officers often commission without underlying historical demand data 
  • Creates richer, shareable data
  • Citizen in control of their own data. The app puts the parent or carer in control of their own data and allows them to make more informed decisions about their families
  • Reduced cost - it is estimated that the Early Years app is more cost effective than maintaining paper assessments, approximately £5,000 per locality in addition to the increased efficiences
  • Better identification of support - facilitates automated sharing of data, with relevant professionals, enabling more timely identification of required support and reduces duplication of effort

Graphic with title Early Years Application - the benefits, with four icons displaying four different headings - increased efficiency, reduced cost, better identification of support, empowering people

Latest update

The team behind the app have been working closely with NHS colleagues to integrate the Early Years Integration Solution with the NHS National Event Management Service (NEMS) to pull through demographics and events data – events data can include births and deaths and change to a registered GP or home address. Further integrations will include NHS Spine Mini Service (SMS) giving the user the ability to seamlessly search additional demographic data using an NHS number.

The team are also working on expansions including the completion of WellComm forms for older children - the first-time this data will be shared electronically between health and Local Authorities. As well as integrating with localities Electronic Patient Record systems.

In November 2021, the Early Years App (Early Years Integrated Solution) was crowned winner of Digital Public Service Innovation of the Year Award 2021 at the Digital Leaders 100 Awards.

In May 2022, the app was celebrated winning the Effective Information Sharing and Security award at the 2021 iNetwork Innovation Awards.

Hear from our colleagues

Watch Vicky McClung, Health Visitor, Bury & Rochdale Care Organisation

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Watch Petra Hayes-Bowers, Service Manager, Children's Services, Bury

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If you are interested in the early years application, or our work to give children the best start in life through digital, email the team.