New hub of applied informatics resources
A team at National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) South London have created a unique, new online hub of applied informatics resources for health and social care research.
The Applied Informatics Hub (AIB) brings together digital innovations in health and social care to provide a single resource for researchers in south London, and across the UK, to have rapid access to the latest informatics tools. This includes large databases and approved linkages, digital tools that support decision making, and mobile-health technologies.
The Hub features resources developed by research teams in south London including at NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre, King’s Health Partners, NHS Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, the Centre for Translational Informatics, and King’s College London. It also includes key national resources such as the National Cancer Data Repository, National Maternity and Perinatal Audit, and UK Biobank.
Modern health and social care systems produce huge amounts of data – from pseudonymised electronic health records, to research studies and information generated by apps. Increasingly, being able to analyse this data plays a vital role in health and social care research.
Informatics-related interventions can improve our understanding of what is happening across health and social care systems in near real-time. This information can be used to inform care and service delivery, with the aim of improving outcomes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, applied informatics researchers at NIHR ARC South London have:
- Evaluated the effectiveness of a scoring system used in the NHS to predict COVID-19 patients at risk of becoming severely ill.
- Analysed clinical records and service data to understand and monitor the response of mental health services in south London during the pandemic.
Prof Fiona Gaughran, applied informatics research theme lead, says:
Health systems and researchers across south London are leading the way in the use of applied informatics interventions and resources to improve health and social care. The aim of the new Hub is to support the wider use and evaluation of these digital innovations, and to facilitate new links and collaborations – both in south London and across the UK.
The new Applied Informatics Hub (AIH) is divided into five themed areas:
- Electronic health and social care records, which can be analysed, without identifying patients, to better understand whether current or new ways of delivering care result in improved outcomes.
- Approved digital linkages, which join two or more independent sources of data to enable researchers to examine the use of health and care services in more detail.
- Mobile health resources and apps, which increasingly play a role in supporting health and care, and also generate their own real-time data.
- Digital tools and virtual reality, which can support patients and help medical professionals with diagnosis, treatment and decision making, and enhance research.
- Patient and public involvement resources, to ensure health and social care research is designed around people's unique experiences and preferences.