Research Highlights Benefits of Digitising NHS Healthcare

Digitisation of health and social care approaches are of considerable interest to Queen’s with investments through the Belfast Region City Deal at the University’s Global Innovation Institute.

A new, independent study by Queen’s University Belfast has shown that digitising UK healthcare through the sharing of digital patient records leads to improvements in time-saving, quality of care and safety outcomes for patients.

Working with OneLondon, an NHS-led initiative for a 9 million catchment area in London, Queen’s conducted research into the London Care Record, a secure way to share patient information with health and care professionals across the city, so they have the information they need at the point of care to inform their clinical decision-making.  

The Queen’s research has found that London Care Record has saved health and care professionals’ time up to a value of £44.4 million, helping them provide safe and effective care more quickly.

Earlier this year, Queen’s University’s world-leading healthcare and economic experts were commissioned by OneLondon to undertake an independent economic evaluation of the London Care Record, a tool used almost 40 million times to support safe prescribing of medications, quicker hospital discharges and helping staff spend more time with patients.

Dr Ethna McFerran, study lead and Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Health Economics at Queen’s University Belfast, said:

“Digital information technology is a critical aspect of modern healthcare systems. That’s why I was pleased to lead this economic study and contribute to the ongoing effort to optimise the benefits of digital transformation in healthcare services. We took a very thorough and robust approach, based on the latest published data and identified some significant benefits of the London Care Record. I hope this report is a useful reference point for OneLondon and its partners as part of ongoing work on how best to meet the health and care needs of the communities they serve.”

Digitisation of health and social care approaches are of considerable interest to Queen’s University Belfast. Digital investments through the Belfast Region City Deal at the University’s Global Innovation Institute will explore how the application of deep tech, including AI and machine learning approaches, can similarly benefit Northern Ireland in terms of time-saving, quality improvement and safety in healthcare provision.

Professor Mark Lawler, Professor of Digital Health at Queen’s University Belfast and Health Lead of the Belfast Region City Deal-funded Global Innovation Institute added:

“This study is the first of its type and the intelligence we have generated emphasises the critical importance of digital transformation in enhancing the quality of care we deliver to our patients, as well as providing crucial evidence that this approach must be adopted across the UK.

“This work highlights the skills and expertise within the interdisciplinary approach of our Belfast Region City Deal programme at Queen’s, a partnership with government and industry. Our Global Innovation Institute is very much open for business. We are engaging with national and international partners to attract investment to work together to find digital solutions to the global challenges that we face in key areas, including those in the health and life sciences sector. This will bring huge benefits to society and our economy.”

 Luke Readman, Director of Digital Transformation for NHS England (London), said:

“I am grateful to Queen’s University for their detailed independent study that shows the London Care Record has saved health and care professionals’ time of up to a value of £44.4 million. While further analysis is needed in some areas, these findings already demonstrate that the London Care Record is an essential and ‘must have’ tool for our frontline staff that genuinely supports more effective, safer and quicker care. Based on this report, I am confident that the London Care Record will continue to play a central role in health and care for many years to come.”

You can read the full report here: https://www.onelondon.online/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/London-Care-Record-Independent-Evaluation-Report.pdf

Find out more about the Belfast City Region Deal at Queen’s visit: https://www.qub.ac.uk/about/belfast-region-city-deal/

Professor Mark Lawler and Dr Ethna McFerran are supported by funding from Health Data Research UK, Cancer Focus Northern Ireland and through the eHealthHub – All Island Research Hub for Federated Analysis of Cancer Data, a Strand II project, both funded under the North-South Research Programme (NSRP) The eHealth Hub  is co-led by University of Limerick and Queen’s University Belfast and AICRI-Start is co-led by University College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast. The NSRP is a collaborative scheme funded through the Government’s Shared Island Fund. It is being administered by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on behalf of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

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