HISES Innovation PhD Fellowship – COPD

Theme Title: Utilising Routine Data and Digitally-Enabled Care to provide regional identification, triage, and management optimisation for COPD


Respiratory disease is one of the seven UK life science strategy ‘great healthcare challenges’, with COPD among the most prevalent respiratory diseases and the third commonest global cause of death. An estimated 3.7 million people live with COPD in the UK, costing the NHS around £800 million annually: COPD results in 24 million lost working days and 1 million days in hospital annually. Innovations optimising COPD management are needed to promote better health from early disease (where interventions could decrease disease progression) through to advanced disease (where hospitalisations are common). Innovative solutions have potential to be both clinically and cost-effectiveness. This PhD will integrate into an ongoing programme of regional work to co-design novel approaches to identify and manage the COPD population and provide equitable evidence-based support to minimise disease burden through digital approaches to healthcare.


Host Test Bed: Health Innovation South East Scotland (HISES)

Proposed HEI:  University of Edinburgh, Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences

Test Bed Lead contact: Prof Tim Walsh:  timothy.walsh@ed.ac.uk

Innovation Lead:   Dr Gourab Choudhury (Regional COPD Lead, NRS Clinician, Hon Senior Lecturer):   Gourab.Choudhury@nhslothian.scot.nhs.uk

Demand signalling priority area:    Chronic Respiratory Disease/ COPD; Management of Long Term Conditions; Integrated Planned Care


Problem statement:   At present health boards in Scotland do not have automated digital approaches for identifying patients with COPD at population level, classifying them in terms of illness characteristics and staging, and presenting data for healthcare use in ‘dashboard-style’ format using routine primary and secondary care data. HISES is engaged with a commercial partner in co-developing a regional dashboard within a Trusted Innovation Environment (TIE) in the regional DataLoch. A focus of this PhD will be further development, validation, implementation, and evaluation of this innovative approach.

From a COPD dashboard updated in real time using routine data, value will be generated by triage into pathways that will improve patient outcomes, optimise equitable use of services and decrease clinician workload. These include: automated triage/referral to smoking cessation, pulmonary rehabilitation and other evidence-based interventions; structured approaches to treatment review and optimisation within primary/secondary care; and triage in to self-management and holistic care platforms. The latter will build on ongoing partnerships with Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland and a digital commercial partner to enable population-level access to self-management advice and support integrated into NHS care. A focus of this PhD can be co-design of these integrated digital and clinical pathways, piloting, and evaluation.

Proposed area of work:   This work will occur within the HISES test-bed, but will provide experience working with academic, commercial, and third sector partners. Research/Innovation will involve engagement with Respiratory Managed Clinical Networks, primary and secondary care COPD leads, and multi-disciplinary teams within Health & Social Care Partnerships.

Opportunity:   This PhD will provide opportunities to develop skills in data science, the use of data to optimise care quality and efficiency, and integrated digital/clinical approaches to service design. Training will also include relevant areas of digital health, R&D approvals, information governance, and health technology evaluation (including work with multiple stakeholders). The programme can include experience working directly with academic, commercial, and third sector partners, especially in relation to co-design. Piloting and implementation work will develop project planning and management work, and leadership skills. It is expected the PhD will provide a strong grounding to be a future NHS leader in innovation, as well as expert in COPD research and innovation.

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Contact: innovationfellowship@gov.scot