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Oxford trial of clinical data platform

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Clinical systems supplier EMIS has given researchers at the University of Oxford first access to its new clinical data and analytics product to help in the ongoing fight against the coronavirus.

Built on the cloud-based EMIS-X platform, the new EMIS-X Analytics technology is currently being used in a number of academic studies relating to COVID-19. The product will soon be piloted with a number of CCGsahead of its launch to NHS customers in the fourth quarter of 2020.

EMIS says this latest product will provide NHS customers new analytics tools to access their patient data faster and more efficiently than before, providing insights into healthcare at a scale and speed that will “improve patient outcomes at both a regional and national level”.

The EMIS-X Analytics is the first product to be launched on the EMIS-X platform, which has been in development for around two years.

Dr Shaun O’Hanlon, chief medical officer at EMIS, said: “The concept for the EMIS-X platform was unveiled in 2018, when EMIS announced its plans to develop a next generation, cloud-based system to extend the capability of its widely-used EMIS Web software.”

The tool is able to secure authorised access to data from up to 40 million patient records held by more than 4,000 healthcare organisations. It is then able to combine these datasets from multiple sources.

O’Hanlon said: “The system uses the processing power of cloud computing to interrogate large datasets, providing quick and deeper insights that will improve patient outcomes.

“In the future, it will also allow users to integrate artificial intelligence tools to provide machine learning alongside human insight.

“This software application is a positive development for our customers, enabling deeper, faster insight into healthcare data that we believe will improve patient outcomes while accelerating progress in clinical research”.

As part of the COVID-19 study at the University of Oxford, researchers have had responses from more than 1,700 GP practices who have stepped forward to contribute patient data.

The data, which has led to published research on COVID-19 risk factors, has come from a daily pseudonymised feed from participating practices provided by EMIS since July.

The response from GPs follows a joint appeal in March by the Oxford Royal College of General Practitioners Research and Surveillance Centre (Oxford RCGP RSC) at Oxford University, and EMIS, for practices to share their data under strict governance guidelines.

To date, 1,774 practices covering nearly 10 million patients have volunteered to take part in the COVID-19 research, boosting the Oxford RCGP RSC’s network of practices from last year’s 500 practices.

Professor Simon de Lusignan, director of the RSC said he was ‘delighted’ by the response from GPs. “We had a resource before, but it is on a fantastic scale now, and is already helping us to answer important questions about COVID-19.

“The sheer numbers coming forward have surprised and delighted me, but primary care has really stepped up to the plate on all fronts in this crisis. It would be difficult to do this research without carefully coded primary care data.

“For example, ethnicity is well recorded by many GP practices, and this was vital to help us understand the impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities.”

The data is enabling the researchers to understand the spread of COVID-19, including tracking when it peaks and helping to inform strategy on local social distancing and lockdown. It is also being used to evaluate rapid COVID-19 finger prick tests against swab tests. Some practices are taking part in rapid clinical trials of antibiotics to reduce the duration and severity of the virus.

O’Hanlon said: “We are proud that our advanced analytics technology is being deployed to support vital research at The University of Oxford. I’m very grateful to all the GPs who have come forward to share data and take part in the research, along with thousands of patients.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has highlighted the need to obtain good quality data quickly, and the power of data to make a difference. Our technology provides the secure, powerful processing tools needed by researchers, healthcare providers and government to answer important questions quickly by running complex queries over aggregated datasets at speed.”

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