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  • 1 April 2018 to 31 August 2019
  • Project No: 397
  • Funding round: FR 15

Acute kidney injury (AKI) is common, harmful and costly. Every year it is responsible for over 100,000 deaths and costs the NHS beyond £1 billion. It is not a disease but rather a sign that the body is seriously ill. Despite its severity, AKI produces very few symptoms and patients are often unaware that they have developed it. It is detected by a blood test showing a quick decline in kidney function. However, it is often preventable if the correct steps are taken to improve contributing factors including the safe use of medicines, effective communication between primary and secondary care and sufficient monitoring of vulnerable patient groups.

We are only now recognising the potential for computers to enhance healthcare. Specifically, one of the ways we can improve patient safety is the creation of systems that use their own results to continuously learn and develop, called a “learning healthcare system”. This project will be the first stage in the development of such a system, which will target AKI with an aim to improve patient safety.

To determine the requirements for such a system, a range of methods will be used. The first step will be to list and identify key areas of AKI care that can be improved using a computer program. To examine this further, we will then interview key healthcare professionals involved in managing AKI within four practices and one hospital. This includes doctors, specialist nurses, biochemists and computer staff. Patients and carers will be engaged, using a co-design workshop focusing on what patients want doctors to communicate to them about AKI. These findings will help us develop a sample computer system for healthcare professionals to try out for five months. Evaluation of the system will be via satisfaction questionnaires, interviews and monitoring how the system is used.

Amount awarded: £49,737

Theme: Organisation and delivery of care/ Research innovation and new technologies