Development of learning system for unplanned care

north west icon North West Coast
Researchers involved: Prof. Tony Marson and Dr Keith Bodger
Disease area impacted: Acute Hospital Admissions (Emphasis on COPD and to lesser extent on epilepsy)
Key partners: Teams at the University of Liverpool, University of Lancaster, and AIMES medical services are working with the NWC Innovation Agency
Start and end dates: Jan 2016 to Dec 2018

Patients will benefit form the research
Data will be used to develop a learning health system for unplanned care

Project Overview

For people with long terms conditions such as COPD and epilepsy, better coordinated health and social care should improve patient outcomes and efficiency, reduce emergency department attendances, hospital admissions and duration of stay. It is likely that solutions in exemplar chronic diseases like COPD and epilepsy will be transferable to other conditions.

Those who do attend emergency departments will have more coordinated onward access to community, social and out-patient services. This whole approach will improve clinical outcomes, avoid harm and reduce admissions to emergency departments.

This infographic shows how researchers in the NWC will use data and technology to improve the care pathway for patients with COPD

This infographic shows how researchers in the NWC will use data and technology to improve the care pathway for patients with epilepsy

Why is this research project important?

People with long terms conditions such as COPD and epilepsy, have overlapping health and social needs and while it might seem obvious that care should be better coordinated across health and social care, it has been difficult to achieve.     

There are huge amounts of data collected and we believe that we could use technology to bring data together in such a way it could then be used by care services, for the benefit of the patient.  This should improve patient outcomes, and if people are supported to manage conditions better themselves, there would be a reduced need for emergency department visits and fewer hospital admissions.    

This project brings together clinical and technical expertise from two major universities and a local technology company that has some of the most advanced and secure data stores in the UK and it will also be working with clinical and managerial staff from across the whole NWC region, as well as our citizens.

What data are you using?

We will first examine data that the NHS routinely collects. This data does not include patient identifiable data because it is anonymised. In phase two we intend to go a step further and link NHS data with data from outside the NHS eg social services.   This will require using patient identifiable data and so individuals will be asked for their consent.

Are the data anonymised?

Phase 1 will use anonymised data ie the data for each person is allocated a code – a pseudonym – that allows the different visits of a person to be linked together without identifying the individual.

Phase 2 will require the use of identifiable data.

What methods are you using to conduct this work?

Analysts from the universities will be examining the data using medical and statistical techniques. This will then be used to advise front line NHS clinical teams who in turn will be able to use this information to provide better outcomes for patients.

Who will benefit from your research?

The intention is to improve the care provided to people with long term conditions such as COPD and epilepsy.   Bringing the data together in a secure environment will allow analysts to create more reliable statistical data about care provided and the outcomes achieved.

What will be the intended outcome of your research project?

The first phase of the project will be to inform health professionals about what is happening to clinical care in their locality, as compared to other areas. The second phase, when we have consent to link to other data, should offer even more opportunity to define best care and treatments, to implement them and to demonstrate their benefit.

Are there any early findings?

We expect the first reports to be available by 2017.

Any comments/additional information you would like to report?

The descriptions above are necessarily brief.  It is important to add that at each step we will be working with patient organisations and the public to ensure that what we are doing is both acceptable to, and for the benefit of, the citizens of the NWC.   There is an active program to recruit patient and public representatives to work alongside the analytical work and more details are on our website ( .