Lancaster University

This is archived news from Lancaster University. You can find up-to-date stories in our current news section.

Computing and Social Sciences join forces in healthcare computing research

11/11/2002 17:08:04

Professor Ian Sommerville from Computing and Professor John Hughes from Sociology are about to begin a new research project that could affect the future of information systems in the National Health Service.

Working closely with hospitals in London, Preston and Edinburgh, the researchers will study how different kinds of hospital information system are used and will suggest design guidelines for future systems.

One area that will be studied is how computer systems can be used to help doctors assess mammograms for possible tumours. Professor Sommerville explained :

?The danger with automated systems is that they can actually reduce rather than improve people?s effectiveness. Social analysis of how people work together and use computerised systems provides an understanding of work as it is really practised. This knowledge allows the software to be more closely aligned with the tasks that it is should support and so may help mammograms to be assessed more quickly and accurately in future.?

Other areas of focus are on medical record keeping systems in the NHS. The researchers believe that such systems have a history of failure because of the software developers lack of knowledge of the social setting in which the software is to be used. The potential economic impact of this study is significant as improved efficiency of health information systems is essential if health service improvements are to be delivered.

The research will be funded by a prestigious 5 year Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) platform grant awarded to the team. Platform grants are a new innovation in the EPSRC?s Computer Science research programme that are designed to support adventurous and innovative research. They are only awarded to research groups who have worked at an international level of excellence for several years.