At the Global eHealth Unit we are involved in various projects that cover a number of areas. Discover some of the projects we are currently working on below:
Intelligent use of electronic Imperial College Healthcare Trust data to inform and evaluate interventions
Healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) are considered to be the most frequent adverse event that threatens patients’ safety worldwide. A great deal of work has been carried out to develop interventions to improve surveillance, control and prevention of HCAIs and to improve outcomes within the NHS and global health systems. Key to this project is the novel use of existing healthcare records within the ICHT. Routinely collected electronic healthcare data in the NHS includes hospital databases that contain patient admissions and discharge details and summaries, pathology investigation results, patient movement, estates and finances. This project offers a unique opportunity to utilise techniques established epidemiology techniques and combine these with cutting-edge novel data visualisation methods using existing electronic ICHT data. Application of these methods to the data will produce a new method of identifying, preventing and controlling nosocomial infections, which has not previously been used within the NHS. This work is in collaboration with the Data Science Institute at Imperial College London.
This work is funded by the NIHR BRC.
Precision medicine and sepsis screening within Imperial College Healthcare Trust
NHS England has developed a CQUIN for NHS trusts incentivising Trusts to ensure screening for and rapid use of antibiotics in those with severe sepsis. High-quality evaluation of these interventions is crucial in allowing policy-makers, clinicians and researchers to identify those that are effective. The NIHR has recently called for research using efficient study designs to evaluate clinical and public health interventions for the NHS, including the use of electronic healthcare data for natural experiments. This project uses routinely collected electronic healthcare data from ICHT to evaluate a novel sepsis-screening tool using a natural experiment design, combined with causal epidemiology methods.
This work is funded by the NIHR BRC and is carried out in collaboration with the NIHR HPRU.
Translational Research and Patient Safety in Europe (TRANSFORM)
The TRANSFoRm project seeks to develop, pilot and evaluate a core information architecture for the Learning Health System (LHS) in Europe that can improve both patient safety and the conduct and volume of clinical research in Europe. Following five years (2010-15) of development, testing and evaluation in clinical trials and other studies, TRANSFoRm has developed the LHS in the following three areas: a. clinical research - using CDISC standards and a common clinical ontology to create a fully functioning eSource system for clinical trials; b. epidemiological research -demonstrating a method for deploying distributed phenotype-genotype queries against secure, private and disparate data sources; and c. clinical decision support: developing a prototype LHS for supporting diagnosis in primary care.
mHealth for antenatal care: mHealth for implementing NICE antenatal mental health guidelines
Maternal mental health is one of the key health priorities in the UK, given the prevalence and impact of conditions such as perinatal depression. Compared to other stages of life, women are at an increased risk of developing depression 3 and 6 months after childbirth. Treating depression during these stages can reduce the likelihood of developing postpartum depression, prevent more severe forms of this disorder, and improve a woman’s general health status. The introduction of electronic devices, such as tablet computers, could facilitate depression case-finding and monitoring of symptoms. This project assesses the feasibility of using tablet computers for implementing NICE recommendations for recognising depression in pregnancy in the waiting area of antenatal clinics in general practices, midwifery services or secondary care sites. It also assesses the feasibility of using a smartphone app (BrightSelf) for the repeated and longitudinal assessment of depressive symptoms and mood-related factors during pregnancy using a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) approach.
Learn more at BMJ Open.
Supporting Low-cost Intervention For disEase control (Supporting LIFE)
Malaria and infantile diarrhoea are two major causes of mortality in children under 5 years of age. Other serious infections in this age group include pneumonia, measles and meningitis. However, only one in three children with fever are taken to a health facility. Most deaths due to serious infections such as malaria, pneumonia or dehydration in children could be avoided by prompt recognition and treatment. The Supporting LIFE (SL) project is designed to provide low-cost, effective, and targeted interventions in remote and resource-poor settings in order to overcome inadequate healthcare infrastructures in Malawi, Africa. The Supporting LIFE Consortium has developed a smartphone app to enable health care workers in rural clinics in Malawi to effectively assess children with symptoms of malaria, pneumonia or infantile diarrhoea. The application replicates the WHO and UNICEFs validated paper-based Community Case Management (CCM) guidelines routinely used by community health workers in Malawi. The app is tested in a field trial with the participation of 100 health care workers from rural clinics and about 8,000 children and their caregivers. The study assesses the impact of the app on referrals, re-consultations, presentations and/or admissions to higher health facilities, and costs of seeking care.
Learn more at Supporting LIFE.
Professional development in eHealth and data science
Continuing professional development in eHealth and data science for healthcare
The Global eHealth Unit at Imperial College London developed coursework which:
- enables learners to understand emerging trends and issues in eHealth
- teaches students how to manage technology initiatives that advance medical outcomes
- teaches the key aspects of the intersection of data science and healthcare.
The programme has been designed to address professional needs in Digital Innovation in the field of healthcare as well as to provide allied health professionals and those looking to embark in the field the necessary skills to understand eHealth and the way in which data science methods can be used to design healthcare applications.
Learn more at EIT Digital Professional School.
Educating staff to engage with young patients
Educating administrative healthcare staff to engage with young patients
The Global eHealth Unit at Imperial College produced a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) to prepare general practice administrative staff for management of adolescents and adolescent matters. The key project deliverable is to ensure that general practice staff feel confident in helping adolescents who use their surgeries. To this end, the course has been designed to teach receptionists and administrative staff about the legal and medical confidentiality status of adolescents at different ages to include case studies to increase knowledge and confidence in handling different types of situations. By addressing this gap in knowledge and experience, the service aims to improve the experience of young people when using general practice and thus improve attendance which is key during adolescence.
Learn more at EIT Health.
Introducing and inspiring innovation data science for Healthcare
Data science 3i: I.ntroducing and I.nspiring I.nnovation data science for healthcare
The Global eHealth Unit at Imperial College has produced a blended learning programme in data science deployed as a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to include supplementary face-to-face teaching sessions in order to create the blended education experience. The project’s key deliverables include:
- the creation of a course that allows postgraduates to engage with data science regardless of background.
- the creation of credit-bearing coursework for postgraduate students at the college as well as for external students via a novel integrated MOOC and blended format.
- the provision of learning analytics to enable real-time feedback to course organisers on learning design.
Learn more at Higher Education Funding Council for England.
NHS Sustainable Improvement
Improvement FUNdamentals MOOC Evaluation
NHS Sustainable Improvement (previously NHS Improving Quality) ran a massive open online course (MOOC) in the fundamentals of healthcare improvement. Improvement FUNdamentals was delivered through a connectivist MOOC instructional design; the emphasis on peer learning saw the participants engaged through Twitter, discussion forums and Google Hangouts to encourage learners to share knowledge and experience, with the aim of creating an international network of quality improvers. The Global eHealth Unit at Imperial College London has been selected to conduct an evaluation of the two cohorts to discern the impact of the course, means of engagement and networking aspects. A mix-methods approach has been developed, involving quantitative and qualitative evaluation of the participant experience, analysis of data gathered through the learning management system and analysing social media posts made on Twitter and the course discussion forums.
Learn more at NHS England.
Unobtrusive blood pressure tracking
Unobtrusive blood pressure tracking
Traditional cuff-based blood pressure monitoring devices cannot be used inconspicuously. They inflict physical inconvenience, require adherence to a particular protocol and are sleep disturbing. This project develops a validated wrist-band and/or chest-strap based device to track blood pressure during daily life, in particular during sleep, food intake, stressful events and physical activity. The work consists of three parts: (1) collecting data sets with BP readings (systolic and diastolic BP) in combination with the unobtrusive signals electrocardiography (ECG), ballistocardiography (BCG) and photoplethysmography (PPG), (2) developing algorithms that estimate BP from the unobtrusively acquired signals and (3) validating how accurately the algorithms track blood pressure (accuracy, coverage) in comparison to clinical acceptance criteria.
Introduction to ICT and eHealth
Traditional vs blended learning ICT courses
Despite the increasing uptake of information and communication technologies (ICT) within healthcare services across developing countries, community healthcare workers (CHWs) have limited knowledge to fully utilise computerised clinical systems and mobile apps. The ‘Introduction to Information and Communication Technology and eHealth’ course was developed with the aim to provide CHWs in Malawi, Africa, with basic knowledge and computer skills to use digital solutions in healthcare delivery. The course was delivered using a traditional and a blended learning approach. A randomised controlled trial was conducted to assess the effectiveness of the two learning approaches.
Learn more at BMC Medical Education.