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ARC Wessex support leads to more funding aimed at tackling NHS Winter pressures

Two research projects have been awarded funding to address two of the biggest challenges facing NHS hospitals in the South by Health Data Research UK (HDRUK) and the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR)

They are; Data Science Informing Complex Discharge Winter Policy (DS4SmartDischarge) and Predicting Hospital Length of Stay in Acute Respiratory Infections Patients (PHLOSARIP).

Professor Michael Boniface along with Dr Dan Burns and Professor Matt Inada-Kim are the lead investigators on the projects. Professor Boniface on complex discharge, and Dr Burns and Professor Inada-Kim on the length of stay project.

The work brings together NIHR ARC Wessex, the University of Southampton, University Hospital Southampton and Hampshire Hospitals to use health data to support hospitals which are facing high demand during the winter months.

Both projects managed to apply for the extra funding on top of projects that were established by ARC Wessex.

Professor Boniface explains: “Currently around 20% of beds in Southampton General Hospital are used by patients who are well enough to leave hospital but can’t because of delays arranging onward care. Using computer algorithms we aim to help the NHS understand what causes patients to be delayed and use the insight improve discharge planning."

This project is the continuation of a project - called PROCED - already underway at NIHR ARC Wessex.

Dr Dan Burns works in Digital Health and Biomedical Engineering (DHBE) at the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton. He will be working alongside Professor Matt Inada-Kim from Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Their new project is called Predicting Hospital Length of Stay in Acute Respiratory Infections Patients

Dr Burns explains: “We aim to find patients with acute respiratory infections – or ARIs - who are at higher risk of a long hospital stay and find ways of predicting whether a patient will have a long stay when they next get an acute respiratory infection. A very high proportion of admissions throughout the winter are ARI-related and we need to improve this pathway to help ease the impact of winter.

We want to understand how individual patients recover from ARIs and this will involve looking at a wide variety of factors: age, gender, ethnicity, previously diagnosed diseases, staffing levels in their wards, and how they recovered from previous infections. By understanding how length of stay is affected by these factors, the hope is to develop more effective ways of monitoring and treating ARI patients, thus reducing the amount of time patients are in hospital for and reducing the impact on the NHS.”

Professor Matt Inada-Kim has previously worked with Professor Boniface and Dr Burns on using machine learning and health statistics to support people recovering from Covid infections in the community and used previous research funded by NIHR ARC Wessex.

Often new research projects can spring out of previous work and get more money or funding as a result. NIHR ARC Wessex supports, funds, and adopts projects that can often lead to further research.


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