Varadkar announces research to improve patient monitoring in Emergency Departments

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The research is one of two new HRB-funded projects aimed specifically at tackling quality and patient safety issues.

Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar says,

‘We all know that quality research is the cornerstone of advancing better, safer and more efficient health services. What is unique about these research projects is that they seek to specifically address quality and patient safety challenges identified in practice by the national clinical care programme teams. The Health Research Board, the Health Service Executive and the Royal College of Physicians are to be commended for taking such an innovative and integrated approach to research and health service delivery’.

Under the Research Collaborative in Quality and Patient Safety (RCQPS)*, €521,968 will be invested in these projects and they will look at very different aspects of the health service. One will pilot a new monitoring protocol for patients in emergency departments; the other will develop an early, integrated care intervention to improve work retention/participation, improve functional status, and increase health related quality of life for people with musculoskeletal diseases (MSDs). The studies will commence in December 2014 and be completed in early 2017.

Graham Love, the Chief Executive at the HRB says,

‘The HRB actively supports research that responds to the current and emerging needs of the health service. The very nature of these awards means that results are available in real time, as researchers are linked directly with National Clinical Programme teams.  We believe the outcomes of these projects will go a long way to improving patient safety; creating efficiencies in the health service and delivering better quality outcomes for patients’.

The first project, Emergency Department Monitoring and Clinical Escalation Protocol, will pilot a new monitoring protocol for patients in emergency departments. This protocol has been designed to ensure the safe, timely and appropriate monitoring and management of adult patients from triage to assessment by a treating clinician, and until they leave the emergency department (ED).

The Project will be led by Dr Conor Deasy, Department of Emergency Medicine at Cork University Hospital, with Dr Una Geary, as the national programme Lead. The pilot will be carried out at CUH.

According to Dr Deasy,

‘This research will pilot a patient monitoring protocol which has been designed by clinicians and ED specialists in Ireland. It aims to optimise all aspects of patient care while they are in the ED. It will integrate with existing patient monitoring systems and procedures to ensure seamless patient monitoring across the entire patient pathway’.

The second project, Supporting work participation through early intervention in patients with regional musculoskeletal pain, aims to develop an early, integrated care intervention to improve work retention/participation, improve functional status, and increase health related quality of life for people with musculoskeletal diseases (MSDs). MSD-related illness accounts for approximately seven million days lost to absenteeism in Ireland each year. International research shows that keeping people who have MSD illnesses in work – is associated with significantly improved patient outcomes.

This project will be led by Dr Deirdre Desmond from Maynooth University in collaboration with Prof Pamela Gallagher, DCU and Prof Oliver Fitzgerald is the National Programme Lead with the HSE. According to Dr Desmond,

‘There is increasing evidence that appropriate early intervention can improve clinical, functional, mental health and quality of life outcomes for people with MSD. We plan to break new ground in Ireland, and internationally, by developing and rigorously pilot testing a targeted, early, integrated care intervention that will comprehensively address all areas of patient needs. This will improve their outcomes and reduce their downstream need for already overstretched chronic care services’.

Dr Philip Crowley, National Director Quality and Patient Safety at the HSE says,

‘We are focused on optimising the quality of care provided and prioritising patient safety throughout the care pathway. The RCQPS awards provide opportunities to increase the capacity of healthcare staff and managers to engage with and apply research in practice, which is very rewarding, but of equal importance, these awards will enable us to address challenges that we encounter at the coal face. That is research working in practice’.

Richard Costello, Director of Research at Royal College of Physicians of Ireland,

‘The collaborative approach will deliver  high quality research as well as maximising shared learning and knowledge exchange between and across organisations, will deliver the evidence into practice more effectively and will help to build sustainable improvements that extend well beyond the projects themselves’.

Notes to editors

*The Research Collaborative in Quality and Patient Safety (RCQPS) is a collaboration involving the Health Research Board, the Health Service Executive and the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland. It aims to bring together Ireland’s researchers and clinicians in order to generate new research evidence in response to specific quality and patient safety (QPS) issues that emerge from the Irish Health Service.  The total investment committed by the HRB over the lifetime of the initiative is €1.65million.

Approach to identifying research projects

The two successful projects started out on a list of research questions presented by the National Clinical Care Teams which were prioritised. Then, clinical practitioners from the care programmes were matched and partnered with expert researchers from a broad range of disciplines and backgrounds and given the opportunity to submit full proposals. The successful projects were then chosen by a panel of national and international experts in the final stage of the prioritisation process to go through for HRB international peer review and funding.