Applying Clinical Bioinformatics in the Physical Sciences (HBI129)

Module Objective

The clinical and practical application of clinical bioinformatics in the Physical Sciences is a fast-evolving discipline. The underpinning science base is changing rapidly, driven both by changes in technology and analysis strategies used to make sense of the data generated, and by how that data is used to support high- quality, safe, diagnostic and therapeutic care for patients. The dynamic nature of the field places significant challenges on a clinical bioinformatician working in the Physical Sciences. They must be aware of the current state of the art in their specialist areas and have the knowledge and skills to determine which parts of the current research base are likely to have application in their specialist clinical area and the potential improvements and benefits that could be made to outcomes for patients and healthcare services.

By the end of this module the Clinical Scientist in HSST will be able to perform an analysis of the current state of the research base in the application of Clinical Bioinformatics to their specialist area of practice in the Physical Sciences and use this knowledge to inform and lead the clinical work undertaken in their working clinical environment. They will be able to interact with others in their organisation to help influence the development of the service to ensure that the work it does is consistent with legislation and current best practice informed by high-quality research. They should also be able to identify areas in which the current research base should be developed or expanded to meet the needs of public health and clinical service and lead that development. The Clinical Scientist in HSST will also be expected to consistently demonstrate the attitudes and behaviours necessary for the role of a CCS.

The learning outcomes within the module should be achieved in one clinical environment, including (but not restricted to) Medical Imaging, Radiotherapy Physics, Clinical Measurement, or Clinical Biomedical Engineering. The module is written to enable it to be used as an indicator of equivalence for other themes not described here. It is presumed that the clinical bioinformatician undertaking HSST will be embedded within a clinical department and that the learning outcomes of this module will be acomplished there.

By the end of this module the Clinical Scientist in HSST will have systematically acquired and have expert understanding of a substantial body of knowledge that is at the forefront of clinical bioinformatics practice relevant to the clinical and practical application of Clinical Bioinformatics in physical science from the perspective of the provision of safe, high-quality patient care and healthcare services, including: 

  • The current research literature.
  • The current strengths and weaknesses of the theoretical and applied research base.
  • How Clinical Bioinformatics can have a positive impact on the diagnosis, investigation, treatment and management options, including public health interventions.
  • Cost-benefit analyses.
  • Risk analysis.

They will also be expected to have a broad knowledge of the current clinical and scientific practice and issues in the relevant clinical area, including:

  • Current range of clinical, technical and scientific services provided.
  • Patient pathways the service leads or contributes to.
  • Presentation of data to a range of audiences, including colleagues, patients and the public.
  • Confidentiality, data sharing, data storage, hardware, software and environmental issues.
  • Current screening, diagnostic, therapeutic techniques and response evaluation appropriate to the area of work, including strengths and weaknesses.
  • Current issues and opportunities for service improvement.
  • International, EU and national legislation and institutional requirements.
  • Scientific and technical trends and new and emerging technologies, e.g. in medical devices and wearables.
  • Evaluation methods.
  • By the end of this module the Clinical Scientist in HSST will have a critical understanding of current evidence and its application to the performance and mastery of a range of technical skills and will have the skills to:

Perform an effective literature review

  • Perform an effective search of the current literature in a specialist area of physical science as it applies to diagnosis, disease progression and treatment in order to determine the current knowledge around new understandings of the technological and analytical work being done in the area.

Critically appraise the current literature

  • Take the complex literature identified in the review and determine the key issues and debates in a chosen area.
  • Identify and critically assess competing priorities to choose the best solution to resolve the debate in the chosen specialist clinical environment.
  • Disseminate findings, including scientific data and the path of evidence leading to recommendations for future activity.
  • Support conclusions drawn from evidence with reasoned argument.
  • Appreciate the impact of new evidence on patients and carers.

Create a strategic view and a translational strategy

Produce a clinical bioinformatics solution that should inform the strategic direction a service should be taking, including the scientific aspect, patient benefit, service benefit and financial implications. This could take the form of:

  • A forward view to identify areas that should be investigated for future development.
  • A benchmarking of the service against the current best practice.
  • An identification of an area that needs further investigation; a plan for how that could be achieved; implementation and evaluation of the plan; and the production of recommendations for future developments.
  • Translational research to explore the application of new approaches to a specific clinical area.

By the end of this module the Clinical Scientist in HSST will be expected to critically reflect and apply in practice a range of clinical and communication skills and will:

  • Provide advanced clinical bioinformatics expertise, advice and interpretation to a multiprofessional team typically including laboratory scientists, epidemiologists, statisticians, mathematical modellers and clinicians, and be able to communicate key concepts and analyses so that they are easily understood by patients/carers and their families.
  • Lead high-quality patient-focused clinical bioinformatics services that promoteexcellent patient outcomes at both the individual and population level.
  • Support patient involvement and engagement and continually seek to improvethe safety and quality of clinical healthcare science services.
  • Collaborate with colleagues across organisational boundaries to develop, promote and participate in a multi-professional approach to high-quality patient care and management.
  • Promote informatics improvements that enable policy makers to gain secure access to information that informs policy, strategy and intervention based on both active public health incidents and longer-term surveillance.
  • Promote new developments that enable patients to have improved and safer access to information about their care.
  • Educate healthcare professionals in new developments in their specialist area of physical science clinical bioinformatics practice.
  • Reflect on the challenges of applying research to practice in relation to these areas of practice and suggest improvements, building on a critique of available evidence.
  • Seek solutions to problems by supporting and encouraging others to identify creative solutions using group creativity techniques.
  • Lead a high-quality clinical bioinformatics service in a focused area of physical science services, promoting excellent patient outcomes, supporting patient involvement and engagement, and continually seeking to improve the safety and quality of NHS clinical scientific services.
  • Be positive and confident about developing ideas and putting them into action.
  • Be open to new developments, actively seeking opportunities for collaborative discussions and research, attending conferences and keeping up to date with the literature.
  • Adopt a forward-looking, progressive approach and be receptive to new ideas and emerging technologies.
  • Promote a sustainable, ingrained culture of innovation in department(s) and/or organisation.
  • Ensure clinical and scientist colleagues are kept up to date with novel techniques used within the service.
  • Consistently work to high standards of clinical practice, applying knowledge and evidence, making decisions and evaluating the impact of those decisions.
  • Support and contribute to the development of multidisciplinary clinical team working and work with the team to determine scientific service priorities.
  • Recognise the importance of the multidisciplinary clinical team and take responsibility for ensuring appropriate and effective decision-making processes are in place.
  • Balance data confidentiality, security and protection, and the sharing of data with relevant stakeholders, including patients, to ensure high-quality patient-centred care.
  • Educate clinicians, clinical scientists, colleagues and patients in the principles underpinning new techniques, present and justify new procedures and explain the interpretation of data or images acquired.
  • Act in accordance with the principles and practice of patient-centred care, regularly reflecting on personal practice, and revising judgements and changing behaviour in the light of new evidence.
  • Critically assess and evaluate personal and team-related performance in the context of evidence-based patient care, identify areas of good practice and make improvements where necessary.