(2018-) EPSRC Funding: Interface Reasoning for Interacting Systems (Value £6,146,075)
(2017-2018) Huawei Technologies: Exploring open innovation networks (Value £116,000)
(2014-2017) ESPRC Funding – Delivering Digital Drugs (Value: £694,954)
This research pioneers a new area of study, that of digital drugs. It brings together people with different backgrounds to share knowledge and understanding about current and future developments in how medicines are used and the digital systems they are embedded in. Using theories and models from studies of the digital economy – concepts such as digital materiality, platforms, digital business models, open innovation – we set new agendas for researchers, business and NHS managers, clinical professionals and policy makers. We will enable better strategy-making among key stakeholders as well as spurring further research.
Until recently most medicines were developed, tested and licensed for specific uses, and manufactured and distributed in standard doses. But things change with new developments in the ways that medicines are developed, supplied and used and new policy for patient-centric care. Much of this change is dependent on using information technology, networks, databases and other kinds of software to help safely and efficiently deliver the right medicines for patients and the right information for all stakeholders. Thus as people work with and use medicines, they work with not just a specific chemical or molecule in a standard dose, but with a lot of digital resources and information services that let them refine these uses. Medicines are now a hybrid, in part physical product (a chemical), part an informational product (data and information), and part a service (algorithms) that a user interacts with.
Still, medicines are often not used to their full potential or safely; research estimates that 1 in 5 of hospital admissions are related to inappropriate use of medicines. Error rates in medicines use are high, sometimes leading to serious harm. The toll from misuse of medicines may be reducible by applying digital technologies – a more intensive digitization. The UK NHS has, for example, undertaken major projects in the last decade to computerise prescribing and the transmission of prescription data for both GPs in community settings (primary care) and in hospitals (secondary care), as well as to improve patient understanding of their medicines and thus their ability to participate actively in taking them.
This project will map out the full range of digitisation initiatives underway today. We will study in more depth a carefully selected set of about five examples. To collect this data and analyse it, and to provide a detailed overall model of the digitization processes at work (the why, and the how), we will need to develop some new tools to describe medicines in their digital character. Here we can borrow a number of contemporary ideas from other studies of the digital economy, innovation and business models. These tools and models, which we will document and distribute, will be useful for other people who want to understand digital drugs and other complex products and services that are changing as they embody more data and connectivity.
This research is useful and important. It may help to address the needs of our aging population with multiple, treatable chronic (long term) diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure. New medicines will become available that depend on data rich and multidisciplinary practices, flexible and reliable supply chains, and active patient participation. They will draw upon medicines’ digital resources and be delivered through new business models, perhaps very different from today. Three examples illustrate these ideas; 1) the kinds of smart pills that transmit data from inside your body to a mobile phone as they are taken and help to ensure that you take the right dose at the right time; 2) innovative patient centred information systems as a basis for new approaches to managing diabetes in the community, 3) the potential of replacing high street pharmacies with a small number of an ‘Amazon’ type online supplier. https://gow.epsrc.ukri.org/NGBOViewGrant.aspx?GrantRef=EP/L021188/1
(2014-2011) Co-Investigator – SeRTES.
The SeRTES project aims to provide a set of requirements/specification of a visualisation to show scenarios, ‘the whole’ rather than ‘the parts’, how issues in a technological enabled society are dynamically related i.e. how entities, individuals, institutions, laws, and risks dynamically interact within the virtual realm. The research would also abstract key constructs (of entities, links and flows) for the visualisation that allow ‘non-obvious’ representation that is parsimonious and powerful. We will develop a skeletal representation and demonstrator that could have richness and layers added over time, beyond the current project scope. The project will also devise ways of extracting (queries), from the visualisation, ways it can be used, e.g. value risk, how to value stewardship, security, privacy, contingent values, trust and if there are useful inter-, intra-layer notions of ‘trust domain’ that can help us organize the architecture of the ecosystem to enable interactions, transactions, and ecosystem development. This queries would help support decisions, resulting in a tool that can be used by the policy makers, business leaders, and law enforcement officers to make intelligent decisions. The SeRTES project proposes to represent a ‘tool of tools’ that is truly trans-disciplinary and cross-cultural. Finally, the project sees its research as a seed-corn project and expects to seek more funding to add to the richness of the representation and develop a network of studies complementing this project.
(2010 -2011) Co-Principle Investigator – Physical Science Information Practices. Funded by Research Information Network. Physical sciences, hunting for the exploration of fundamental laws of nature, have played a special role for the natural sciences in the 19th and 20th century. As a discipline they formed an interface between mathematics and other natural sciences, but also between natural sciences, engineering, applied sciences and technological development. Not only have they influenced other sciences, epistemic and social behaviour characterizing this specific scientific community has often functioned as role model for other sciences. For example: the preprint culture developed primarily in high-energy physics (the first exceptional field of large scale and international collaboration) diffused first into physics and triggered (together with the web – another by-product of high-energy physics) the current web-based repository and open access movement. More recent developments as ‘web travel in time’ (Memento project) or ‘life-stream data on information seeking behaviour’ (Mesur project) also have their origins in physical science research environments. Such developments make the information seeking, organizing, archiving and communicating capacities of this particular community an interesting case to be studied for possible effective regimes of information processing behaviour when confronted with complex problem solving tasks. This project seeks to explore this behaviour.
(2008-) Investigator for CfHEP Evaluation of the UK Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) in Primary Care (part of NPfIT). In conjunction with the The School of Pharmacy, University of London and the University of Nottingham. (http://www.haps.bham.ac.uk/publichealth/cfhep/004.shtml) The aim of this research is to evaluate electronic transmission of prescriptions within primary care. The bulk of the evaluation will focus on Phase 3 of the ETP rollout, and then the transition to Phase 4. The initial focus is on the 17 PCTs selected for initial implementation, though we understand the need to be flexible and match the evaluation activity to the speed of rollout. In undertaking the evaluation, the aim is to provide 3 types of evaluations: 1. An assessment and confirmation of the safety of the service established against the background of the prior work practices. 2. Insights into the way the service is initially adopted by GP practices, patients and pharmacies/other dispensers in a way that that can inform the wider rollout of the service 3. An assessment of the wider consequences of the uptake and use of the service for patients, pharmacy, primary care, and the organisational and institutional environment of health care.
(2006-2010) Principle Investigator of Pegasus (Particle Physicists’ Engagement with Grid-technologies: A Socio-technical Usability Study): www.pegasusresearch.org.uk: Experimental particle physics has always demanded new technology and this demand has led to many new innovations, of which the Web is perhaps most notable. Currently particle physics is demanding a new form of computer system capable of processing the vast quantity of data which will be produced by a new particle accelerator at CERN (Europe’s particle physics laboratory based in Geneva called the Large Hadron Collider – LHC), scheduled to start in 2007. This experiment will produce a staggering 12-14 million gigabytes of data per year and so requires a wholly new form of computer system to process the data. This new system is called a Grid and consists of many distributed computers, storage arrays, and sensors, all working together so that any user can draw on very large amounts of computing power without needing to know about how it works or even where the computers and data are located. The UK’s particle physics community has constructed a Grid (called GridPP1) as a pilot demonstrator of this technology. They are now in the process of evaluating this pilot project, and developing a new Grid (GridPP2) ready for the new accelerator where it will be used by a large number of physicists analysing the new data. However implementing new information systems is always difficult. While the pilot projects may prove technically successful, things are often very different when they start to be used to do real work. In particular the users will need to change the way they work in order to accommodate the new system, they will require (or even demand) the new system to be changed in unexpected ways because it doesn’t fit with their needs, and furthermore the type of work they do collectively will be changed. This project aims to understand the way particle physicists are constructing their Grid, and how they are introducing it into use. This is relevant for improving the usability of all Grids and for wider information systems research for three reasons; first, particle physicists are very pragmatic in the way they construct technology and tend to employ tools and techniques in different ways to other developers (for example software companies or big firms). Second, particle physicists are distributed across the globe and have for a long time worked together as a “virtual organisation”; something which is of great interest to other scientists as “e-science” leads them to work in similar ways. Third, because the LHC will start in 2007, and so GridPP2 must be ready on time, we will be able to observe the compromises and decisions particle physicists make to construct a usable system to a deadline. This means that the research can provide a relevant juxtaposition to current research on other innovative systems development approaches, for example Open Source Development and Agile Methods.
(2001-2004) Co-investigator on C-SanD (Creating, Sustaining and Disseminating Knowledge for Sustainable Construction):http://www.C-SanD.org: A three year EPSRC funded research project in partnership with the University of Salford and Loughborough University and with a variety of industrial collaborators (AMEC, Davis Langdon, Taylor Woodrow, WS Atkins, Greenwich Council, Hockerton Housing). The construction industry needs to place more emphasis on knowledge issues if it is to achieve its targets of more sustainable processes, materials and products. Within certain projects knowledge about sustainability is being developed continuously, but there is little understanding of the best ways to foster the creation of this knowledge, less about how to capture such knowledge, and even less about how to ensure that knowledge is available quickly and easily to other individuals, companies and projects. Some of this knowledge comes in the form of good practice, standards and enhanced process models, but to make sustainable construction more general across the industry requires the informed understandings by professionals of how these codified elements can be used in practice. Against this background, the aims of the C-SanD project are to develop, test and implement: software tools which allow capture and retrieval of relevant knowledge: to embed these tools in working methods that both enable the creation of new knowledge about sustainable construction – that is allow the reflection upon project experience by the teams drawn from different professional interests and companies- and for accessing and incorporating such knowledge into ongoing activities; such an approach, driven by knowledge, requires architectures for the sharing of knowledge within companies, and also for the controlled sharing of knowledge between companies. To achieve these ends the C-SanD project draws upon the experience of professionals in the partner companies, reflecting their current practices and needs, and sets this alongside current research in construction management, knowledge management, information systems development and allied fields. The project makes use of modelling approaches (problem structuring methods) to interpret the different understandings of key issues (including the varied meanings of sustainability itself), and uses these models to stimulate discussions to provide a robust basis for software design. The resulting prototype processes and software will be used on live projects to both support their sustainability objectives as well as to refine the knowledge processes and the software tools. The tools, methods and architecture produced by C-SanD are intended to be of use to both large companies with more extensive IT structures and smaller specialist sub-contractors who often have a sophisticated knowledge base but a less sophisticated IT structure. As sustainability issues relate to both the construction process and the facility in use, the outputs of the project will be of use to clients, consultants and construction companies.
TWIST (Treasury Workstation Integration Standards Team:http://www.twiststandards.co.uk): An industry group working to develop an open XML standard to enable straight through processing within financial services. This group, led by Shell, includes leading corporate treasuries, fund managers, banks, system suppliers, market infrastructure providers and consultancies. The LSE’s involvement in TWIST has led to the recent creation of the TWIST research centre within which I am a co-investigator. The centre aims to undertake research into the role of technical standards in financial services.