e-Health Research in the UK
The National Health Service treats the UK population from 'cradle to grave'. Through carefully regulated use of the IT systems that support NHS healthcare management, the UK has the potential to become a global leader in e-health research.
In 2005, the UK government committed to develop the research capability of NHS IT systems, strictly within the bounds of patient confidentiality. The aim was to:
- facilitate recruitment of patients to clinical trials
- gather data to support groundbreaking work on the population’s health and the effectiveness of health interventions
The UKCRC was tasked with coordinating the research and development input from a broad range of stakeholders in to the development of the NHS IT Programme in England. The UKCRC worked with NHS Connecting for Health (NHS CfH) to establish an advisory group to take this forward.
The UKCRC R&D Advisory Group to Connecting for Health carried out paper-based research simulations and made recommendations on the technical, regulatory and governance issues surrounding the use of patient records for health research. Three major pieces of work are underway to take these UKCRC recommendations forward:
- In England, a new, formal programme of work known as the NHS Connecting for Health Research Capability Programme is underway to directly take forward the recommendations. It aims to ensure that research achieves its full potential as core activity for healthcare, alongside other uses of NHS data to improve healthcare quality and safety.
- The OSCHR E-Health Records Research Board complements the work of the Research Capability Programme. It has a broader, UK-wide focus and has strategic oversight, aligning the strategies of Government and other funders to provide the funding to meet e-health records research needs. More about OSCHR can be found on the NIHR and MRC websites.
- A funding call for research on electronic patient records and databases was issued by the Wellcome Trust in partnership with three of the UK Research Councils. This initiative is acting immediately to support and stimulate capacity in the use of electronic databases for health research while the other work activities gain momentum, and take advantage of the new electronic technologies being developed across the UK.
Also available are a page on Information and Resources on e-Health Research in the UK and a page on other organisations and groups involved in e-health research (e-Health Research in Context).