BRIT – Using data to tackle antibiotic resistance

Manchester icon Greater Manchester

Researchers will use data to better understand how and why antibiotics are prescribed.

Researchers involved: Prof. Tjeerd van Staa, Dr Benjamin Brown, Anna Molter, Dr Miguel Belmonte, Dr Victoria Palin, Chirag Mistry
Disease area impacted: Infectious diseases
Key partners NHS and Public Health England

Project Overview

Antibiotics are used to kill bacteria when we get an infection or to protect us when our immune systems are vulnerable.

At the moment we are facing a crisis in public health.  The bacteria are becoming more resistant to the antibiotics and as a result they are becoming less effective, in the future there’s a chance they might stop working altogether.

One of the reasons for this is over-prescription.  Antibiotics are being given out too often and the bacteria are becoming immune to them.  This project, delivered by the Greater Manchester CHC is applying a tech savvy solution to help understand and tackle the problem.

By making better use of health data and presenting results in a more powerful way, researchers at The University of Manchester believe they can start to reduce the demand for antibiotics.

The BRIT team will accessing anonymous GP records, A&E departments and out-of-hours clinics, the team will be able to understand which services are prescribing the most antibiotics.

All of this data is kept in the medical records so health informaticians send the information to a secure environment to be analysed.

The results of these analyses can then be displayed in an easy-to-understand dashboard so that GPs can understand how their surgery compares to others in the same city.  The system will also allow GP’s to access more detailed information about symptoms and guidance to ensure they only prescribe antibiotics when they are required by the patient.

1. What data are you using? Are the data anonymised?

De-identified GP records, A&E departments and out-of-hours clinics. All data are anonymised. We will work with the clinical care teams of the patients but the researchers will never have access to patients’ names or addresses.

2. What methods are you using to conduct this work? (How are you using the data?)

This study is observational, we analyse the data as collected by the clinical care teams during routine care and as recorded in the electronic care records used by them. We will analyse the data estimating, for example, the number of patients who are admitted to the hospital for lung infection per 1000 patients.

3. Who will/could benefit? (What will we know that we don’t already?)

The direct benefit will be the NHS, the clinical care teams, the NHS groups that support the clinicians in their prescribing and Public Health England that monitors resistance to antibiotics. Also, our aim is also that future patients will benefit by reducing antibiotic use in patients who have a viral infection (antibiotics do not work in these patients) and by increasing their use in patients at risk of being admitted to hospital for lung infection.

4. What will be the intended outcome of your research project?

The intended outcome is to provide the NHS and clinical care teams with better information on what is happening and who is getting antibiotics and whether the use of antibiotics is reasonable given local resistance patterns to antibiotics.

5. Are there any early findings or indications you can report? Are there any publications?

Early results should be available in Spring 2017 if all goes to plan.

This video shows how bacteria can evolve resistance to antibiotics. It is this outcome that researchers working on the BRIT project are trying to avoid.