The seminar was led by ARC South London’s applied informatics theme and included presentations from the researchers and public members who have been involved in the work. The event was chaired by Professor Fiona Gaughran, the ARC's applied informatics lead and professor of physical health and clinical therapeutics at King's College London and director of research and development at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. In her introduction Professor Gaughran gave an overview of applied informatics and the theme’s work.

Our work is about evaluating the implementation and adoption of digital innovations, such as a health app on a mobile phone, or linked databases with anonymised electronic health records - in health and social care settings. Informatics has great potential to improve and understand outcomes in health and care, but it is also important to evaluate how it gets incorporated into practice, so that it’s acceptable to the public and care providers and informs good care.

Professor Fiona Gaughran, ARC's applied informatics lead and professor of physical health and clinical therapeutics at King's College London

Mariana Pinto da Costa, senior lecturer and Bartlomiej Pliszka, research coordinator, King’s College London introduced ARC South London’s Applied Informatics Hub (AIH), which gathers together digital innovations in health and social care research to allow researchers rapid access to the latest tools.

The first presentation was from Dr Dipen Patel, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), clinical research fellow in psychosis studies, King’s College London, Lana Samuels and Katherine Barrett, patient and public involvement members in applied informatics, and members of ARC South London’s Public Research Panel.  They presented on their collaborative approach to applying digital tools to improve physical healthcare at SLaM.

Dr Patel outlined how people with serious mental illness (SMI) have significantly more cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes compared to the general population. He described the development of a computerised system which can automatically alert clinicians of patients in secondary mental healthcare, with guideline-based recommendations for diabetes monitoring and management. Lana and Katherine described their role as patient and public involvement members bringing together all stakeholders to inform the research throughout the project.  

The second presentation, from Dr Rebecca Bendayan, MRC/NIHR research fellow, NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre, King’s College London, described how applied informatics was used to investigate and monitor the Covid-19 response in mental health and hospital services in south London. The research team used linked health data records to understand the relationship between ethnic background and severe Covid-19 infection.

Dr Mark Ashworth, reader in primary care, King’s College London then gave a short summary of how health data is protected. This was followed by a brief Q&A session and  breakout sessions, where groups discussed the following questions:

  1. How would you like to see health data used to address health and care inequalities? What areas of care should we target?
  2. How should researchers communicate and engage with the public on the use of routinely collected health data?

Read a summary of the discussion from the breakout rooms.

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