Our aim

To easily recruit large numbers of the right patients to clinical trials and be able to conduct long-term follow-up with minimum effort, so that we can improve and speed up the development of new medical treatments. To empower patients to join clinical trials that have the potential to result in improved treatments for them.

The challenge

The way we conduct clinical trials needs to catch up with today’s technology. Getting enough people in a clinical trial is critical – the more people the more accurate the results, and there is a number below which a trial’s results are just not robust. It used to be a great challenge and take a long time to find a sufficient number of the right patients to enrol into a trial and would rely on tapping into local networks that not all doctors/researchers have access to. These days a large portion of NHS records are electronic so in theory we should be able to search the database for patients that could benefit from a particular trial and source participants from the whole population (not just one NHS Trust for example). These are just some of the challenges of conducting great clinical trials which data science can address.

Our approach

Perhaps one of the most valuable data connections we can make is for research teams running clinical trials to be able to track the long-term health of trial participants by having consented access to their NHS medical records. This will allow more efficient and longer-term follow-up than what we are realistically capable of now. Uniting medical data and records across the whole of the UK is HDR UK’s mission, and enabling large-scale clinical trials in this way, is one route to improving the nation’s health. Some research teams are better equipped, connected and technologically-supported than others to conduct 21st century trials.

We want to provide a system that all of the UK’s world-leading clinical triallists can use to identify large numbers of the right people to invite to trials. We are also working on new, more effective approaches to ascertain, adjudicate and analyse trial results. To achieve this we are working not only on the methods but also the relationships with data guardians to link national datasets to clinical trials.

Our output

Clinical trial services to support all UK triallists to make best use of NHS records to recruit large numbers of the right patients to better-designed clinical trials, better interpret the results and have longer-term patient follow-up. This is to drive new and better treatments for patients, particularly those who need more than the current gold standard intervention to improve their health.


Science Priority Lead for Clinical Trials