Competition Funded PhD Studentship Construction, presentation and analysis of clinical e-pathways built from routinely collected patient centric data

Faculty of Science

Application Deadline 21st June 2013. This studentship is available for a 1st October 2013 start.

Supervisory Team Primary: Dr Beatriz de la Iglesia

The Project

We have defined a methodology for extracting patient centric data from multiple heterogeneous hospital information systems (IS).  The collection of data on patients with prostate cancer has been one successful example of our approach and has establised proof of principle for this proposal.   The study involved collecting data from (i) textural reports from the Picture Archiving Communication System (PACS); (ii) clinical coding and appointment information from the hospital Patient Administration System (PAS); (iii) details of diagnosis, treatments and history from the oncology department system (ONC) and (iv) PSA test results and histopatological reports from the biochemistry and histopathology system (LAB).  Additionally, data from the cancer registry served as a quality cross-check. Such data integration is not currently the norm unless patients are part of a clinical trial. Prostate Cancer has been estimated to directly cost the NHS £45 million per year in 1997. It is the most common male cancer in the UK and there is a need for data integration because there is considerable debate about which treatment is best.

After collecting the data and generating an Operational Data Store (ODS) containing patient centric information on thousands of patients with prostate cancer, we have proposed a framework for the construction of authoritative e-pathways from such data.  We have developed measures of quality of each pathway constructed so that clinical analysis can include only those records deemed of sufficient quality.  We have also developed software to build, visualise and explore the e-pathways.  This work, now being published, will enable further clinical and epidemiological research on prostate cancer but also the development of methods to compare and analyse pathways, improve integration and visualisation enabling clinicians to follow their patients’ journeys.  The database assembled is unique in the content and presentation of the information on prostate cancer pathways. 

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A number of challenges still remain.  First, retrieving, linking and collating patient centric data is non-trivial.  We need to implement a system that will periodically collect, link and analyse new data and add it to the ODS.  Second, although we can now present e-pathways for over 1,900 patients, we would like to build capability to conduct analysis such as compliance with the NICE defined prostate cancer pathway, survival of patients on different treatments or ability to match a patient’s e-pathway with other similar e-pathways to look for possible outcomes. Finally, we believe that it is possible to extend all our work on building and analysing e-pathways to other diseases.

Entry Requirements

A first or upper second class degree (or international equivalent) in Computing or a related discipline.


This studentship will cover the cost of fees at the UK/EU rate and provide a stipend at the standard RCUK rate (currently £13,726). Non-EU students are welcome to apply but due to funding restrictions will be required to pay the difference between UK/EU and International fees.

Making your Application:

Please apply via the University’s online application system.

To discuss the application process please contact the Admissions Office, email or telephone +44 (0)1603 591709.

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