Prescriptions, Athletic Hearts and Climate Change: Research Café VIII

Left to Right: Kate Shemilt, Tim Stott and Victor Utomi

Left to Right: Kate Shemilt, Tim Stott and Victor Utomi

Our May Research Café was held in Avril Robarts Library on 21st May and covered topics from prescribing systems in health care and the impact of exercise on the heart through to the impact of climate change.

Kate Shemilt began the Research Caféwith a fascinating insight into health care prescribing systems. An initiative to make the NHS paperless by 2018 has been a key driver behind the move from traditional paper-based Patient Prescription Charts to electronic systems in hospitals. The aim of her research was to look at how the change impacts on the working practice of Health Care Professionals (HCPs). Three themes emerged from the research:

  1. Logistics – change in the physical location of the prescription
  • Pros – electronic so can’t go missing like paper copies
  • Cons – access issues, remote location to patient
  1. Interpreting Systems – how each HCP uses the prescription
  • Pros – text now legible
  • Cons – reduced ability to get clear picture of patients’ medications, layout and intricacies of electronic system
  1. Operating Systems – training on how to use and work with the system
  • Pros – positive reaction from nurses
  • Cons – Doctors concerned about potential increase in prescribing errors, pharmacists found new process more time consuming

The research identified the following areas as essential to the success of an electronic system: location, access, legibility, clarity and accuracy.   The system design needs to take into account all HCPs’ needs in order to facilitate quality care for the patient. Kate also proposed recommendations for future system developments such as the use of hand-held devices to facilitate patient contact and risk awareness for remote prescribing.

Victor Utomi delivered an interesting and entertaining presentation on how the human heart adapts to exercise. His meta-analysis of athletic heart trials between 1975 and 2012 studied 3,871 subjects in 92 studies looking at Echo and MRI scans among healthy male subjects. The main findings of the research showed that the hearts of athletes adapt to exercise and this is more profound in endurance athletes.  The pattern of heart enlargement was not distinct according to type of training (endurance or resistance) and cardiac function was normal or improved among athletes. These findings conflicted with the results of landmark research conducted in 1975, indicating that more research is required to investigate the changes using highly advanced 3D and 4D cardiac imaging techniques. Victor also proposed that other groups should be included in further studies e.g. females, older athletes and other ethnic groups to normalise findings across different body types / heart sizes.

Tim Stott closed the Research Café with an engaging and thought-provoking presentation about climate change. Tim discussed his involvement with a project hosted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna to assess the impact of climate change on soil/water/ecosystems in fragile polar and mountainous regions. There are 46 participants from 27 countries collaborating on the project, whose overall aim is to improve the understanding, management and conservation of climate change on both a local and global scale. Tim is leading a literature review for the project to compile relevant data on benchmark sites and find gaps in research that require further investigation. Review findings will highlight evidence of significant environmental change and identify which regions are most at risk. The project team can then work together to develop combative strategies to adapt to climate change and preserve ecosystem stability at key sites. Tim gave an example of this, in which locals created a series of artificial glaciers in Ladakh, Himalayas to combat global warming and reduce the risk of drought or food shortages in the region.

The full presentations are available here or why not join us at the next Research Café at Aldham Robarts Library on 18th June.

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