Health Services and Policy group

Published on: 25 February 2015

The group's research includes better understanding the healthcare goals of patients. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Academics in the Health Services and Policy Research group are investigating gaps in care, its safety and whether they can develop interventions to make improvements, supported by the NHS.

The group, based in the University of Exeter Medical School, provides evidence to inform decision-making and the organisation of healthcare.

Professor Jose Valderas leads the group. He said: “We focus on the problems of patients with many conditions. This is an issue because the healthcare system is set up around single issues when a lot of patients have many. People have to fit what the system offers, rather than find a natural way.”

Studies

Their work includes the first systematic review of prevalence, patterns and predictors of multimorbidity – the occurrence of two or more chronic medical conditions in one person. Systematic reviews identify, assess, select and combine all high quality research evidence relevant to a particular research question.

The review looked at studies covering more than 70 million patients from 12 European countries. It found factors leading to multimorbidity include age, lower socioeconomic status and gender.

Another area of interest is patient reported outcomes - responses to questionnaires taken from patients. The group have just published a protocol for an ongoing systematic review of how clinical practitioners can use these outcomes.

Goals

The group are currently working on developing an approach that will help health care professionals work with patients to identify and achieve their health goals.

Professor Valderas explained: “We will be asking the patient about their healthcare priorities. We are also handing out questionnaires for each of their conditions to work out quality of life for each condition.

“This is fed back to the patients themselves. We tell them how to interpret scores, how they’re doing relative to others, etcetera. But it’s also fed back to the clinician so they can develop plans based on the findings, with the patient.”

The group are also working on a review to understand what does and does not work when it comes to using patient reported outcomes in health policy decision-making. This could help improve decision-making in healthcare.

APEx

Members of the group are involved in the Collaboration for Academic Primary Care (APEx). APEx focuses on establishing the South West as a national centre of excellence for primary care research and education.

Professor Valderas said: “We’re trying to bring everyone with an academic interest in primary care together under one virtual roof. We’ve already established a seminar series on primary care and have received some funding for projects.

“The Health Services and Policy Research group are leading on work related to patient-centred care. We also offer a patient reported outcomes clinic. People can come along for a 15 minute slot to design their studies, or improve their analysis, things along those lines.”

In addition to patient-centred care, research in APEx looks at service delivery and outcomes, mental health and diagnostics.

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