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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

Health informatics

BSMS > Research > Primary care and public health > Health informatics

Health informatics

Health informatics covers a wide range of issues surrounding the collection and use for public health purposes of health data in health environments.

Currently, BSMS researchers are working with specialists across different fields on a wide ranging programme of interdisciplinary research around electronic health records (EHR). EHRs are digital stores of patient and population health information with the capacity to be created and shared across different health care settings; they can include information such as consultation notes, treatments, reactions, medical tests etc. Research in this area helps to build a better understanding of our health services, in addition to the patterns of disease and care by opening up the possibilities of collecting and analysing data in more sophisticated ways.

Coordinating a comprehensive vision and research strategy with the Universities of Brighton and Sussex, researchers at BSMS collaborate with colleagues from a range of disciplines including informatics, astronomy, law, philosophy, social science, management and engineering.



The ASTRODEM project aims to create a probabilistic model which will help general practitioners identify patients at high risk of dementia.

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Our researchers

Professor Jackie Cassell is an investigator for the Centre for Improvement in Population Health through E-records Research (CIPHER). Co-ordinated through the Farr Institute, CIPHER is a multinational research partnership focused on improving the health and wellbeing of the population through the use of health informatics research. Aiming to reduce delays between knowledge discovery, intervention assessment, and population impact, CIPHER focuses on the development of new methods to anonymise, link and analyse data, along with engaging the public, policy makers and practitioners. Cassell currently co-leads with Professor John Carroll, a computational linguist at the University of Sussex, a group focusing on the use of free text (constructed data) within CIPHER.

Dr Stephen Bremner is involved in a project led by Dr Liz Ford that aims to predict the onset of dementia from electronic primary care records. Future work includes planning to lead a feasibility study in order to ascertain the amount, flow and quality of data from residential and care homes that resides in electronic form, particularly on databases such as CPRD.

Dr Liz Ford is currently collaborating with researchers in physics, informatics and epidemiology to work out ways of extracting the most useful and accurate information from EHRs, such as identifying a range of different codes indicating disease, modelling disease onset and diagnosis, and accessing the free text in the records. In addition to this she is also currently collaborating with Prof Jackie Cassell in her work for CIPHER. She is also engaged in social science projects aiming to understand the clinical and social context in which records are created. Current work is using dementia and rheumatoid arthritis as exemplar diseases and future work will be looking at presentations of mental health problems in general practice.