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WCPRS Opportunity

Warwick Collaborative Postgraduate Research Scholarship
'Use of an automated mobile application as an alternative point of entry to healthcare'
University of Warwick with 'Advanced'

This 3-year PhD studentship provides a unique opportunity for a promising health services researcher to work in a highly topical area. The Advanced Odyssey Clinical Decision Support solution powers a mobile health app that is being used in a pilot being promoted by NHS111 and the wider NHS across the West Midlands. There are already over 2500 assessments per week being made with the app, and this is helping to reduce pressure on the NHS111 service. However, little is known about how patients are experiencing the app and what real life impact this is having on emergency, urgent care and primary care services. There is also scope for the app to learn ways of predicting elements of satisfaction or dissatisfaction according to the profile of the user and their type of presentation, which could influence the future design and performance of the app. The successful candidate will be conducting research at the forefront of NHS service delivery.

Key objectives are:

  • To establish the existing evidence base on use of automated mobile applications as an alternative point of entry to healthcare.
  • To determine patterns relating to nature of use and time of use, and explore these in relation to patient characteristics.
  • To explore patient experience of using an automated mobile application, the benefits experienced, the acceptability of its advice, and the health seeking behaviour and NHS service use following use of the app.
  • To identify barriers and facilitators to increasing the uptake of automated mobile applications.
  • To explore the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) to enhance user experience and outcomes.
  • To make recommendations for improving user experience and uptake.

The PhD will be supervised by Dr Helen Atherton, Assistant Professor in Primary Care who specialises in the use of digital technologies for delivery of primary care; Prof David Fitzmaurice, Professor of Primary Care and practising GP, both situated in the Unit of Academic Primary Care at Warwick Medical School; and by Professor Rob Procter, Professor of Social Informatics in the Department of Computer Science at Warwick. The research will involve working closely with Advanced and Sensely, learning about their operation, and providing annual progress reports on the research. Advanced is the UK's third largest provider of business software and services with a £220m turnover.

The research will combine established research tools and methods from both quantitative and qualitative health services research, including systematic review, surveys and semi-structured interviews. There will also be an opportunity to explore the use of machine learning algorithms for analysing data from the app.

Applicants should have a Masters degree (merit or distinction) in a subject relevant to digital intervention in primary care, with experience of quantitative and qualitative health services research methodology. Previous research experience would be an advantage.

For any enquiries relating to this PhD studentship please contact Dr Helen Atherton. h dot atherton at warwick dot ac dot uk

Application Process:

To be considered for this PhD, please submit a CV and covering letter, including a brief statement - up to 2 pages, excluding references - that describes your interest in this PhD topic, the key research questions that you are interested in, and your suitability for this role, along with two references via email to h dot mcgowan at warwick dot ac dot uk

Application deadline: Midday July 2nd 2018

Short-listed applicants will be interviewed on 1st August 2018 at Warwick Medical School.