Realising the potential of healthcare records ‘big data’

Electronic health records provide multiple opportunities for large-scale research to transform clinical practice. However, there are sizeable challenges which our National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre is addressing.

Our co-designed security model and governance framework for South London and Maudsley’s Clinical Record Interactive Search (CRIS) are now standard in comparable electronic health records in both mental health and acute care. Our opt-out data use and opt-in ‘Consent for Contact’ models are now also a standard.

Unlocking information from text

Our artificial intelligence-based natural language processing (NLP) algorithms (over 90 to date) have been able to unlock information from clinical text on symptom profiles, risk factors and interventions. We have also been able to link information from both health (acute and primary care) and non-health (education) sources.

This resource, together with our research expertise and a large multidisciplinary team, has led to project and fellowship funding from all major sources, more than 250 publications, and leadership of multi-site programmes.

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust's Clinical Data Linkage Service (CDLS) hosts the large MRC eLIXIR platform, bringing together mental health, maternity, and neonatal/child health data from three Trusts and local primary care, to examine links between maternal and child physical and mental health over time. The eLIXIR platform has also been replicated in Edinburgh.

Impact of research

CRIS-supported research has had many effects. For instance, information on life-expectancy loss in people with mental health resulted in smoke-free policy at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, the first mental health trust to do this.

Our COVID-19 mental healthcare death information influenced the national priorities for vaccines. Our alerting dashboards are used to improve physical healthcare in people with psychosis and prescribing in dementia to reduce the risk of harmful side effects using CRIS algorithms, informed by South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust's Medichec app.

In May 2021, Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) announced a new hub, DATAMIND, which is a collaboration between the CRIS team and Swansea University.



National data science capability

Our BRC's expertise contributes to the development of national data science capability, through leading roles in bodies such as Mental Health-Translational Research Collaboration and Health Data Research UK. Our artificial intelligence systems are used across academia and industry

We will harness this expertise and infrastructure to bring in novel (e.g., wearable) data, develop underpinning methodology and support novel clinical care and trials platforms.




Developing Resources for Research Involving Patients in Research | Data and Analytics to Drive Healthcare | National and International Collaboration