Research Design Service: East Midlands
National Institute for Health Research
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How can we develop more fundable NIHR digital healthcare proposals?

  Created on Wednesday, 18 Jul 2018. Posted in Design Tips

Great blog post from Jeremy Wyatt, Professor od Digital Healthcare - here are his top 10 tips!

  1. Start with a real health or social care problem that matters – not an obscure condition or rare disease that only affects 50 people in the UK
  2. Build a research team that includes all relevant expertise including patients or service users, clinicians and methodologists (statisticians, health economists and / or health psychologists), as well as digital health experts
  3. Review previous work on and theories relevant to your chosen problem area (eg. Michie’s COM-B model of behaviour change) and ensure that the digital technology you choose is justified by reference to user characteristics, the scenario of use (“use case”) and our theoretical understanding of why the problem occurs.
  4. Use the MRC Complex Intervention Framework or a recent variant of that for digital interventions to structure the development and evaluation pathway for each component of your intervention, and how they are combined.
  5. Develop an evaluation plan that includes testing of the usability and accuracy or appropriateness of the digital intervention’s output, ideally in both lab and field settings, as well as its impact on healthcare structure, process and outcome, taking account of known biases in studies of digital technologies.
  6. For your impact study, ensure that study participants, outcome measures and the control are clearly defined and justified with respect to the main study question. Add a process evaluation and any other measures that may be necessary to understand why the study failed to show the expected result and how the intervention can be improved.
  7. Consider how your new technology supports existing care pathways or models, and what changes might be needed in these to maximise the benefits of your innovation. Are there implications for patients, carers, clinical skill mix or education that could ultimately make your new approach infeasible? Are you evaluating a new digital healthcare technology or a new clinical servicesupported by that technology? Sometimes, drawing a logic model showing how your proposed intervention or activity achieves its objectives can be a helpful way to identify intermediate outcomes, leading indicators or process measure .
  8. Consider how the intervention might be supported and improved once NIHR funding stops. One practical question here is, what data would NHS organisations need to write a successful business plan for this digital pathway, and can you collect this data during the NIHR funded project? Another is, does this digital intervention come under the revised EU regulations for medical devices and if so, at what stage to seek the CE marking this requires?