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School of Computing develops prize-winning renal diagnosis software

A team from the University's School of Computing and East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust (EKHUT) has gained second place in the Innovation in Renal Medicine 2009 national competition, run by the British Journal of Renal Medicine.

The team's success was for its development of a renal diagnosis system that is currently being used by a large number of GP practices in East Kent, Medway and Salford, Greater Manchester. Known as SEIK (System for Early Intervention in Kidney Disease), the software has resulted in dramatic improvements in identifying early renal referrals which may otherwise have gone undetected due to lack of symptoms. SEIK has also significantly reduced the number of emergency referrals and led to more effective use of hospital resources for scheduling referrals and treatment.

SEIK analyses anonymous data from GP patient records. Typical data includes blood test results, blood pressure and drug regimes. Some or all of this data may well have been originally collected for medical conditions not related to kidney problems. The system then applies a set of medical rules to the data, which enables it to identify patients who are at risk and, if necessary, it goes on to recommend possible kidney care and referrals. The data and recommendations for treatment are returned to GPs who can match the anonymous data and recommendations to the corresponding patient.

Dr Roger Cooley, Honorary Research Fellow at the University's School of Computing and software development supervisor for the SEIK project, said: 'This project has evolved from collaboration between the hospital and the University over several years. What started as prototype software written by an MSc student has developed into a regional medical service and has begun to have a national influence. It is a gratifying demonstration of the advantages of collaboration.'

Professor Simon Thompson, Head of the School of Computing, added: 'I am very pleased to see this project gain recognition; while we have seen a number of high-profile problems in deploying IT support in the NHS, it is gratifying to see that, starting with small-scale projects like this, it is possible to build systems that deliver better health-care nationally.'

The team was awarded a competition prize of £2,000 by Professor Sir Roy Calne, a pioneer in the field of transplant medicine.


Story published at 11:30am 14 December 2009

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