Spotlight on: Dr. Ben Brown

Posted on September 24, 2018

Photo of Dr Ben Brown

Dr. Ben Brown, former PhD student at the Health eResearch Centre, has specialised in health informatics and software development since 2010. After completing an NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship, he became a GP in 2014, and began his PhD in the same year.

One of Ben’s major PhD research projects was ‘PINGR’, a software system developed to help GP practices close gaps between current patient care and best practice guidelines. PINGR does this by analysing patients’ medical records on a daily basis and comparing them against the best practice guidelines, then using this information to suggest care options to GPs. For example, if PINGR finds a patient has uncontrolled blood pressure, it may suggest an alternative medication.

PINGR has been integrated into the systems of 20 GP practices in Salford, where it has now been active for 18 months. So far, the implementation of PINGR has been successful: patients of the GP practices have seen improvements to their health care. If the success of the project continues, PINGR could be implemented in other GP practices outside Salford.

Ben, currently an NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer, is now working on various health informatics projects centred on developing software for use in primary care.

One project, ‘PATCHS’, is an AI tool that helps to deliver an effective allocation of GP appointments. Preliminary research has shown that 25% of patient appointments could have been carried out by somebody other than their GP. For example, patients often could have been treated by a nurse or a pharmacist rather than using a GP appointment slot.

While many reception desks of GP practices can direct patients to the most effective care, this service is often underused: some patients aren’t aware that receptionists offer these services, while others are unwilling to discuss their ailments over the phone. PATCHS plans to tackle these problems by providing an online tool that will efficiently direct patients to the right place, 24 hours a day. This service could be integrated into GP websites, ensuring effective triage at the beginning of a patient’s care pathway.

The project is currently in the development stage: researchers are analysing existing data about how patients are triaged when booking a GP appointment.

To find out more about Dr. Ben Brown’s research work, click here. For more information on PINGR, click here.