Predicting the impact of illness – and its remedies

Comprehensive approach to modelling healthcare in populations developed at Leicester could help to plan NHS services

A new method of modelling illness across populations could help researchers to analyse how various factors might predict illness in populations and help providers to plan NHS services that more effectively improve their health outcomes.

Researchers led by Dr Louis Levene from our Department of Health Sciences have developed a new comprehensive framework for population health, named the Leicester SEARCH (Systematic Exploration and Analysis of Relationships Connecting Health variables in populations) which they have published today (22 August) in the journal BJGP Open. Developed specifically for use in primary care services such as general practice, it will enable researchers and providers to understand the full impact of a health intervention, such as a new type of treatment, lifestyle change, regular screenings, and more.

Researchers use frameworks to make sense of the complex factors that affect health and illness in large populations. They represent reality in a simplified or schematic way, helping researchers to analyse trends, plan healthcare services and predict the impact of a health intervention across the whole population.

The framework has already been used by the research team to identify anomalies in how general practices are funded and to describe the large decline in continuity of care over five years, highlighting the difficulty for patients in seeing their preferred GP.