SDRN Launch Conference

Submitted by pgmcintosh on Wed, 30/08/2006 - 09:23 Tue, 29/08/2006 - 09:00 - 17:00, Westpark Centre, University of Dunde.

Extract from the University of Dundee Press Office: Press call: 9.15 am, Tuesday August 29th West Park Conference Centre, Dundee. The Scottish Diabetes Research Network (SDRN), a major initiative to facilitate an increase in diabetes research within Scotland, will be launched at a conference in Dundee on August 29th. Commissioned by the Chief Scientist’s Office, the SDRN has been set up as part of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) to accelerate development and adoption of better treatments and new techniques in diabetes research and treatment.

The aims of the SDRN are:

to establish an integrated clinical trials infrastructure between the major academic centres in Scotland and their associated managed clinical networks
to increase recruitment to all clinical trials throughout Scotland
to provide a platform for high quality, unintrusive epidemiology on a national level, examining the way diabetes affects people and groups of people, and working out the best ways to treat and prevent diabetes

“We have already made excellent strides in Scotland in putting in place strong systems for research into prevention and treatment of diabetes, but the establishment of the Scottish Diabetes Research Network is another significant step forward,” said Dr John Petrie. “This will help us engage even more widely with the general health community and the public, which will lead to real benefits in how we understand and treat diabetes.”

Among the new measures which will be put in place by the SDRN is a “research register” of patients who are keen to hear more about chances to participate in clinical trials, including those of new therapies.

The SDRN will also provide practical support to primary and secondary care centres who wish to increase the amount of diabetes research in which they are participating, or to take the initial steps to become involved in research. This will include the training of specialist research staff in community-based settings.

Initially, SDRN will develop a platform for nationwide unintrusive audit and epidemiological research, strengthening the analysis of healthcare information for governance and planning that has been published annually since 2001.

A “hub” for the network has been established at Ninewells Hospital and Medical School in Dundee. Dr John Petrie, Reader in Diabetic Medicine at the University of Dundee, has been appointed as the Network Lead with clinical lead colleagues providing support and leadership in other major Scottish centres.

The SDRN builds on initatives such as the Scottish Care Information – Diabetes Collaboration (SCI-DC), an internationally recognised system of successfully managing the health data of people with diabetes.

Scotland has contributed much to the development of modern diabetes therapies, including JJR McLeod’s key role in the discovery of insulin in the 1920s, and more recently the development of the first insulin “pen” device by John Ireland and David Wyper in Glasgow.

The SDRN believes that harnessing the unique systems jointly developed by clinicians and researchers over the last SDRN Launch Conference | Scottish Diabetes Research Network (SDRN) decade to enhance the quality and quantity of nationwide epidemiological and clinical research will allow the country an even greater role on the world stage in speeding up the evaluation and incorporation of new treatments into routine practice.

Background on SCI-DC

At traditional diabetic review appointments, diabetes specialists scribbled unintelligible notes while rifling through musty case notes. Now GPs, practice nurses, diabetes specialists and other diabetes team members “click” swiftly through up-to-date and secure individual information on sugar control, blood pressure, cholesterol, and current medication. Using this Scottish Care Information – Diabetes Collaboration (SCI-DC) system, healthcare professionals and patients share updated graphs of trends over time in all of these vital statistics, wherever they were acquired. Privileged access to such information improves the quality of joint decisions on care and treatment so that they are informed by all of the relevant data and evidence. To the surprise of visitors from other countries familiar with the problems of health computing, all this is happening right now for a common, chronic disease in the Scottish National Health Service.

The whole community of people with diabetes, and those who care for them, in Scotland have engaged enthusiastically in this massive enterprise, with world-class computing innovation and support. Use of SCI-DC to monitor the effects of diabetes and its treatment on hospital admissions and other complications by anonymised linkage with health service data has greatly facilitated the process of clinical audit to guide health service planning on a local, and increasingly at a national, level (the Scottish Diabetes Survey, published annually). Within health care in Scotland, SCI-DC is now an example of how to develop electronic health information systems (“eHealth”).

SCI-DC is not the only computerised network used for the management of diabetes in the world, but it has many unique features. Its roots are not purely technological but lie in a Chief Scientist Office-funded project initiated in Tayside over 10 years ago -the Diabetes Audit and Research TaySide (DARTS) project, led by Professor Andrew Morris at the University of Dundee. This project capitalised on a strategic decision taken by Tayside health planners in the 1970s, by which all hospital, general practice and pharmacy data would identify patients using the same unique code, based on their date of birth and a four digit random number (community health information or CHI). This apparently simple procedure, now standard practice across Scotland, was unique at that time. It allowed Professor Tom Macdonald in the Medicines Monitoring Unit (MEMO) to develop a groundbreaking method in the 1980s for anonymised research on how patients take medication.

Professor Morris recognised that the idea of using routinely collected data for research could be extended on an ongoing basis so that it contributed to the process of everyday clinical care. The system which was developed – Diabetes Audit and Research TaySide (DARTS) – therefore brings benefits for patients and their carers by providing efficiently all the data needed for use during consultations. It is no surprise that it became rapidly popular in Tayside with patients, diabetes specialists, and general practitioners. The success of the system in Tayside was fostered (and funded) by the Scottish Executive Health Department. It was subsequently incorporated into the Scottish Diabetes Framework in 2001 for nationwide roll out on a web-based platform as SCI-DC. Moreover, the DARTS project has spawned a series of ongoing keynote research papers enhancing understanding of diabetes therapy and care on an international level.

Roddy Isles, Press Office, University of Dundee.

Event Topic:
Professional Conference