UK-based University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and iSoft, a CSC company, are to jointly explore using new software to extract and anonymise clinical information for research and clinical trials, in one of the first projects of its type in the UK.
‘Clinical information held by NHS trusts is of huge value in clinical research and offers these trusts a potential income stream,’ commented Dr Joerg Kraenzlein, iSoft’s director of life sciences. ‘A key goal is to prove that our solution is able to extract a broader range of clinical information than is currently possible and at a fraction of the time and cost.’ He added that current methods normally involve trawling through records manually, which is time consuming and unreliable as records are often missed or lack relevance. ‘The project will potentially save months in the planning and execution phase of clinical trials,’ said Kraenzlein.
iSoft signalled its intent to move into the life sciences space after agreeing a deal with US-based CliniWorks for AccelFind, which is developed to extract medical knowledge from any type of data, including free text notes, discharge summaries or the structured data found in electronic medical records. Under the project, CliniWorks’ AccelFind software will be interfaced to Southampton’s clinical systems to extract and de-identify information about cancers and other diseases, as well as heart and blood conditions from one million records. It will also collect and structure information on diagnoses, treatments, medications and outcomes into a format that supports research and clinical trials.
iSoft’s chief medical officer, Dr Michael Dahlweid, said: ‘This is a beacon project which paves the way for healthcare organisations to move beyond collecting data for use during patient care, to using the data for advanced analysis, prediction and improved drug discovery. The potential benefits to patients are significant.’