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Digital health technology and patient safety

Faculty of Medicine and Health

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Dr J Benn , Dr O Johnson No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

This is an exciting opportunity to undertake a PhD within the Yorkshire and Humber Patient Safety Translational Research Centre (Yorkshire and Humber PSTRC), a partnership between the University of Leeds and Bradford Teaching Hospitals Foundation funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Project Aims:
1) To investigate the sociotechnical factors that govern the effective integration of digital technologies within human and organisational clinical work systems.
2) To develop and evaluate methods, frameworks and tools to enhance the effectiveness, integration, adoption and trust in novel technologies to promote patient safety.

Health care delivery systems are complex adaptive systems which are sociotechnical in nature. Integrating novel digital technologies may have profound implications for the quality and safety of care. Often pre-defined technical systems are pushed into implementation, without adequate consideration of how to jointly optimise the broader sociotechnical system of work (Eason, 2007).

There is some existing research to guide the development of work systems, from a patient safety perspective (e.g. Carayon et al., 2006; Holden et al., 2013). There is considerable scope for further translational research into the implementation and evaluation of digital technologies for patient safety in health services and for a robust sociotechnical approach to guide developers and evaluators. This PhD will seek to address this gap by bringing together multiple perspectives from disciplines such as engineering, computing, social sciences and health services research. The focus will be on developing frameworks and methods to support the safety case for implementation of digital technologies within health care.

The research will comprise a mixed-methods programme based upon a number of digital technology implementation case studies. The structure of the programme is likely to include literature review, case-based empirical studies to understand the sociotechnical factors involved, followed by framework development and validation. The case studies addressed by may include:
• Use of mobile and web-based technologies to collect patient safety micronarratives from health care staff
• Large-scale electronic patient record system implementation
• Decision Support System development and implementation for Cancer Risk Assessment and Deprescribing for Frail and Elderly patients
• Proof of concept for novel technologies to improve patient flow and balance supply and demand in emergency care

The research is likely to appeal to potential candidates from a broad range of fields and research interests, including: patient safety, computer science, health informatics, decision sciences, implementation science, health services research, human factors and psychology.


You should hold a first degree equivalent to at least a UK upper second class honours degree, or suitable postgraduate degree in computer science, human factors, psychology, social science or a health-related subject. You will be enthusiastic, organised and motivated with experience in, or knowledge of healthcare services.

This prestigious award is available to an exceptional candidate who can demonstrate excellent academic ability, an enthusiasm for healthcare safety, the drive and determination to undertake a PhD and an ambition to work in a multi-disciplinary team.

The Faculty minimum requirements for candidates whose first language is not English are:
• British Council IELTS – score of 6.5 overall, with no element less than 6.0
• TOEFL iBT – overall score of 92 with the listening and reading element no less than 21, writing element no less than 22 and the speaking element no less than 23.

How to apply:

To apply for this project applicants should complete a Faculty Scholarship Application form using the link below and send this alongside a 300 word research proposal based on the project brief, a full academic CV, degree certificates and transcripts (or marks so far if still studying) to the Faculty Graduate School at [Email Address Removed]

We also require 2 academic references to support your application. Please ask your referees to send these references on your behalf, directly to [Email Address Removed] by no later than 31 January 2020.

Any queries regarding the application process should be directed to [Email Address Removed]

If you would like to know more about this scholarship or the work of the Yorkshire and Humber PSTRC, please contact: Dr Jonathan Benn ([Email Address Removed])

Funding Notes

This PhD scholarship is available for UK and EU citizens only. The scholarship will attract an annual tax-free stipend of £14,777, increasing each year subject to satisfactory progress, and will cover the UK/EU tuition fees.

This project is supported by the National Institute for Health Research via the Yorkshire and Humber PSTRC, where this PhD will be hosted:

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