Research in health informatics is very much a translational process,
working in both directions to put theory into practice and use
practical experiences to develop theory.
Consequently, CHIME research activities span a diversity of themes and tackle many of the technical, clinical, semantic, ethical, organisational and behavioural challenges within health informatics.
Research into the design of good information systems that will harness clinical knowledge and improve the delivery of health services requires close engagement with everyday healthcare. Grounding research within clinical communities, by developing systems that are to be used and useful, entails a considerable implementation workload and investment in sustained long-term partnerships between academic and clinical teams.
We often work in collaboration with other universities, healthcare organisations, health services and industry in UK, European and global consortia. In addition to academic publications, our research outputs influence eHealth strategy and commercial software products, professional training and accreditation, and underpin much of our postgraduate teaching.
Electronic Health Records
The area of most sustained activity over the last 15 years has been electronic health records (EHRs). The EHR team is recognised as one of the leading centres of expertise in information modelling, clinical data specifications and privacy management for EHRs.
EHR research activities involve a wide network of collaborators in large European projects as well as Medical Research Council (MRC) and Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)-funded work. Our most prominent EHR collaboration is with the community cardiology services of the Whittington Hospital NHS Trust, where web-based applications backed by a comprehensive EHR server (all developed in CHIME) now support anticoagulation management, rapid access chest pain services and heart failure assessment at the Whittington and at neighbouring hospital, primary care and pharmacy sites across North Central London.
Clinical Decision Support
A key goal for health informatics has been to improve clinical decisions by using the power of computers to extract additional information from a patient’s data.
Our work on decision support for image interpretation is being carried forward in two ways. One is to develop tools to allow the creation of large collections of annotated images that will support work in research and training in radiology but also, we hope, improve the development of Computer Assisted Diagnosis (CAD) tools.
The other area of work in decision support is the application of clinical guidelines. CHIME staff are interested in the social processes by which guidelines are created from evidence, in the computerisation of clinical guidelines, and in the use of data-mining to glean new information to combine with guidelines.
Clinical & Applied Bioinformatics and Community Genetics
WHO Collaborating Centre for the Community Control of Hereditary Disorders
Combining the increasing need to involve and empower patients to make decisions about their care with the increasing clinical use of molecular insights to explain and also to predict the courses of disease processes sets the scene for much of our work at the interface between community-based services, information technology and molecular genetics.
Since 1997, research has been ongoing to develop means of supporting communication around genetic disorders, between scientists, clinicians, and patients. Beginning with haemoglobin disorders as a model, this work now encompasses many kinds of congenital and genetic disorders.