Jennifer Neff and Leeanne Monk

A new government-supported collaboration between the @SalfordUni and tech company @Its_Elemental is set to play an important role in shaping the future of social prescribing in the UK.

The two organisations have been awarded a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) grant to help develop evidence of the impact of social prescribing on local communities. A KTP is a part government-funded project designed to encourage collaboration between universities and businesses, and is administered by Innovate UK.

Social prescribing is a method of signposting people to non-medical sources of support within the community to help improve their wellbeing. It often includes activities like fitness, gardening, cooking, and support groups.

It is believed that social prescribing can lead to a range of positive health and wellbeing outcomes for people, such as improved quality of life and emotional wellbeing. But much more research needs to be undertaken to provide the evidence.

Dr Michelle Howarth, Senior Lecturer/Deputy Director PGR at University of Salford, said: “This KTP is a wonderful opportunity for the University of Salford to work with a key industry partner, Elemental, to help develop their digital platform to enable robust and comprehensive social prescribing monitoring and reporting. This unique partnership will develop new and innovative solutions that can be used to provide social prescribing providers with data needed for future service planning and commissioning.”

The partnership between the university, which is considered a leading authority on social prescribing, and the tech company will enable the university to generate important models of information that it can analyse.

The information for the models will be accessed from data gathered through Elemental’s social prescribing platform which is used by NHS trusts, GPs, universities, housing associations and other organisations across the UK and Ireland.

The project’s aim is to embed capability and knowledge to support the development of a Social Prescribing Population Health Management Module, expanding Elemental Software’s analytical functionality, improving data integration and interpretation to generate robust evidence for community models of care.

It is intended that the capability and knowledge embedded through partnership will ensure the delivery of social prescribing programmes is targeted and driven by data analysis and data outcomes to support the reduction of health inequalities.

Helen McPeake, Strategy & Relationship Manager at Elemental Software, said: “Elemental’s main aim is to reduce health inequalities by providing organisations with the digital tools needed to manage, track and report on their social prescribing programmes. We are delighted to be awarded funding by Innovate UK to collaborate with academics at University of Salford. We are looking forward to welcoming a KTP associate into the company who, working with the senior at Elemental and researchers at the university will support us to embed knowledge and capability into the analytical function of the platform to further build the business case for social prescribing.”

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