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Mar 22, 2021

The Cheshire and Merseyside consortium (NHS, UK) is the first regional data integration hub for the National COVID-19 Chest Imaging Database (NCCID)


  • Cheshire and Merseyside is the first region to have achieved this milestone for the NCCID
  • The deployment of a single SMART box has provided access to 15 years of imaging data across 2.5 million people in the region, the largest single data source for NCCID
  • Data integration capabilities as a result of this deployment will allow Cheshire and Merseyside to participate in the National Medical Imaging Platform, to validate the use of AI technology across a variety of conditions

Farnborough, United Kingdom – Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), has supported Cheshire and Merseyside to become the first regional hub supplying the NCCID, integrating data across 13 trusts in the consortium. The deployment of a single SMART box has provided access to 15 years of imaging data across 2.5 million people in the region, the largest single data source for NCCID. In collaboration with NHSX, The British Society of Thoracic Imaging (BSTI) and The Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust, NCCID is being used to support a better understanding of the COVID-19 virus to develop technology that will help diagnosis of the disease and enable the best care for patients hospitalised with severe infection.

Cheshire and Merseyside engaged with Philips in October 2020 to deploy the SMART box, as a means of enabling access to the entire region’s imaging data through a single hub. Due to the ease of integration of the SMART box via Philips Global worklist, the interface was commissioned in January 2021 and has since been used for cross-site image retrieval for the NCCID. The speed with which this was executed is testament to the North West’s role as a leader in leveraging data sharing and integration of care, as a research and development hub in the fight against COVID-19.


Introducing this solution makes Cheshire and Merseyside better placed to lead the way in setting standards in multi-trust collaboration with regional partners. As the only regional hub connected to NCCID, a significant volume of data is captured from a single point of access.


Prof Mark-Halling Brown, Head of Scientific Computing at Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust commented, “One of the findings coming out of the end of this project will definitely be to focus on regional hubs that will be able to coordinate and better centralise the data, a hub just like Cheshire and Merseyside. It can take many months or even years to set up SMART boxes at individual trusts, so doing it regionally is the only way to scale up nationally.”


Steve Sparks, Professional Services Manager RI at Philips UK&I commented, “Most District General Hospitals average 250,000 to 350,000 imaging exams per year, with a single regional SMART box we have been able to gain access to the images from the 13 Trusts within the Cheshire and Merseyside consortium.”


The NCCID database is a centralised UK database containing X-Ray, CT and MRI images from hospital patients across the country. The database is being used for the validation of AI products for use in the NHS, aiding the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 in the UK population. This data has the potential to enable quicker patient assessment in A&E, save Radiologists’ time, increase the safety and consistency of care across the country, and ultimately save lives. It is being made available to researchers, clinicians, technology companies and all those wanting to investigate the disease and develop solutions that can support the COVID-19 patient care pathway.


The SMART box technology will also enable Cheshire and Merseyside to participate in research into many areas requiring large volumes of clinical imaging data. As discovered through the NCCID study, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the potential for medical imaging systems powered by AI. The NHS AI Lab, created last year within NHSX, is developing a National Medical Imaging Platform with the purpose of creating a pipeline for patient data to be used within AI technology across conditions other than COVID-19. The NCCID is one workstream taken forward by the NHS AI Lab at NHSX, which will accelerate the safe, ethical, and effective adoption of AI in the healthcare sector. The power of large-scale data collection has already been demonstrated in various studies, including breast cancer screening studies such as OPTIMAM. Setting up regional hubs, such as the SMART box deployment in Cheshire and Merseyside, will aid the creation of these large-scale National databases and AI technology to help combat a variety of conditions.

About Royal Philips  

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a leading health technology company focused on improving people’s health and well-being and enabling better outcomes across the health continuum – from healthy living and prevention to diagnosis, treatment, and home care. Philips leverages advanced technology and deep clinical and consumer insights to deliver integrated solutions. Headquartered in the Netherlands, the company is a leader in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring and health informatics, as well as in consumer health and home care. Philips generated 2020 sales of EUR 19.5 billion and employs approximately 82,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries.  News about Philips can be found at

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Emily Wells-Burr

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Tel: + 44 (0) 7825 105 685


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