Does a Biomedical Research Centre Affect Patient Care in Local Hospitals?

A new publication entitled: Does a biomedical research centre affect patient care in local hospitals? has just been published in Health Research Policy and Systems. The article explores the impact of biomedical research on patient care with Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust.

Biomedical research can have impacts on patient care at research-active hospitals. We qualitatively evaluated the impact of the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (Oxford BRC), a university-hospital partnership, on the effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare in local hospitals.

The study was based around 17 interviews with leaders of the Oxford BRC’s research, and 19 interviews with senior clinicians responsible for patient care at Oxford’s acute hospitals to discover what impacts they observed from research generally and from Oxford BRC’s research work specifically.

We compared and contrasted the results from the two sets of interviews, and identified themes emerging from the senior clinicians’ responses. We also compared them with an existing taxonomy of mechanisms through which quality of healthcare may be affected in research-active settings.

The research leaders identified a wide range of beneficial impacts that they expected might be felt at local hospitals as a result of their research activity. They expected the impact of their research activity on patient care to be generally positive.

The senior clinicians responsible for patient care at those hospitals presented a more mixed picture, identifying many positive impacts, but also a smaller number of negative impacts, from research activity, including that of the Oxford BRC.

We found Oxford BRC-related research contributed to the following impacts:

  • Patients have had earlier access to novel treatments and technologies as a result of research activity locally;
  • Research activity has become more formalised in recent years, bringing advantages from funded research time for OUH’s NHS staff, but tensions with those staff who are not so funded;
  • NHS staff awareness of research appears to be increasing, though there is still work to be done to improve communication about research that is going on, opportunities to get involved, and the findings that emerge;
  • The Oxford BRC adds positively to the reputation of Oxford hospitals;
  • Staff recruitment and retention may be improved in aggregate, though there are local issues with experienced staff being drawn into research and away from patient care;
  • Patient involvement has increased over time, associated with a major increase in clinical trial activity at Oxford hospitals;
  • Additional physical infrastructure has become available in some areas, although this is constrained by Oxford BRC funds not being allowed to be used for capital equipment purchases. Against that there were comments to the effect that the demands of extra research activity involving patients can increase pressure on NHS care facilities such as space for outpatient clinics;
  • In some areas, staff have become more interested in and receptive to research findings, although in some areas such interest and receptiveness have been high for many years.

We found the existing taxonomy of benefit types to be helpful in organising the findings, and propose modifications to further improve its usefulness.

This research was undertaken by OHE’s Grace Marsden in collaboration with colleagues from RAND Europe and Oxford BRC. The study was commissioned by Oxford BRC.

Access the full article [open access] here.

Posted in Health Care Systems, Research | Tagged External publications