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Ground-breaking research set to improve patient outcomes in early psychosis

Professors at the University of Birmingham and University College London have taken part in ground-breaking research in collaboration with teams at Birmingham Women's and Children's NHS Foundation Trust (BWC) to improve patient outcomes in early psychosis. 

Professor Rachel Upthegrove and Professor James Kirkbride have been awarded a prestigious NIHR Programme Development Grant that will lay the groundwork for establishing a digital psychosis register. This platform will help to improve treatment options in Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIP) services and provide long-term cost savings for the NHS.

People experiencing psychosis may feel paranoid, have hallucinations, believe things that aren't real or feel very muddled. Psychosis affects over 8000 people in England every year, and those who are poor or are from ethnic minorities have a higher chance of developing psychosis. When they do, these groups may find it more difficult to recover and benefit less from treatments. 

EIP services already collect data, but it is not currently possible to provide patients or clinical teams with information to help address disparities in care. However, thanks to this ground-breaking research, a national database is being developed that tells patients and staff how much progress each person is making. 

Project Co-lead, Rachel Upthegrove, is Professor of Psychiatry and Youth Mental Health in the University of Birmingham’s Institute for Mental Health, and Consultant Psychiatrist for Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. She said: “This database could deliver important and up-to-date information about individuals’ care. Importantly, the NHS could also use this tool to find out if anybody is missing out on treatment unfairly, in the same way that data innovation has made stroke and cancer care fairer and better.”

This database is called Early Psychosis Informatics into Care (EPICare). Combined with a digital tool called a clinical decision support system, EPICare will provide evidence-based treatment options for patients. This means that we can improve the targeted delivery of early intervention in psychosis care to ensure that better personalised care is being delivered more fairly.

Co-lead Professor James Kirkbride, at University College London, emphasised “that a national psychosis register could transform the lives of people who experience psychosis by allowing clinicians and researchers to make better use of their data to remove unequal access to treatments and provide better information to guide care”

EPICare was developed in partnership with the NIHR Translational Research Collaboration (TRC) and the University of Birmingham's Youth Advisory Group. Over the next 12 months, Professor Upthegrove and Professor Kirkbride will plan the onward development and testing of EPICare in several diverse Early Intervention in Psychosis services across England, led by our Mental Health Service, Forward Thinking Birmingham.

They have partnered with patients, service users, carers and communities to improve the relevance, quality and impact of EPICare. 

For more information about our Early Intervention in Psychosis service, visit our dedicated page on our website.

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