An early warning system to detect sepsis in Emergency Department patients, a method of easing demand for hospital physiotherapy and new software to more accurately predict the prognosis of melanoma patients, are amongst 11 translational health and medical research projects to be granted funding by Sydney Health Partners (SHP) in 2019.
SHP has provided a total of $1.65 million to the projects, using funds from the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund through its Rapid Applied Research Translation scheme.
The Executive Director of Sydney Health Partners, Professor Garry Jennings, said all the funded projects were chosen for their potential to be translated into clinical practice within a relatively short period.
“Our mission is to deliver the benefits of health and medical research to our patients and communities more quickly. All the projects promise readily implementable solutions to real-world health system problems.”
A grant to Western Sydney Local Health District’s University of Sydney Associate Professor Naren Gunja and collaborators will validate a new computer algorithm which identifies Emergency Department (ED) patients who might be suffering from sepsis. As part of the project, the team will investigate whether the solution can also be applied to paediatric emergency departments.
Sepsis is a bacterial infection of the blood which can be difficult to diagnose through observation and is often fatal if not detected early.
“Our algorithm scans the patient information routinely entered into the ED’s electronic record system and automatically flags anyone who might be suffering sepsis,” said Dr Gunja. “It’s a data-driven approach that’s never previously been tried in an emergency department in Australia or, we think, anywhere else in the world.”
A grant to Northern Sydney Local Health District’s University of Sydney Professor Lisa Harvey and collaborators will be used to trial the effectiveness of personalised home-based physiotherapy regimes delivered and monitored via a mobile-phone app.
Professor Harvey says it’s believed the home-based physio solution can reduce demand on health system and improve equity of treatment access for patients.
“We hope to show that, through a randomised control trial, patients using the physio app at home achieve medical outcomes as good if not better than patients in hospital, while also reducing lengthy waiting lists for hospital-based treatment and saving the health system money.”
A feature of all the successful applications was a high degree of collaboration across disciplines and locations.
A grant to Western Sydney Local Health District University of Sydney senior lecturer Dr Alex Varey will allow him to partner with melanoma researchers across SHP.
Together they will develop web-based calculators which more accurately predict the risk of tumour metastasis, whether the patient will get another primary tumour and their likelihood of survival.
The algorithms will be based on the world’s largest single-institution database of melanoma patients, held by the Melanoma Institute of Australia.
“Clinicians have long been doing these sort of risk calculations in their head and making guestimates about a patient’s prognosis - so there’s a clear need for data-based clinical tools like these,” said Dr Varey.
Sixty-eight applications for funding were received from researchers across the SHP’s major partner organisations – the Northern, Western and Sydney Local Health Districts, the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network (Westmead), the University of Sydney and their affiliated medical research institutes and centres.
Research proposals were assessed by an independent panel representing the partners.
A full list of funded projects can be seen here.