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Dr Chris Paton

Research Area: Global Health
Keywords: Health Informatics, e-Learning, Digital Health and Global Health
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I'm the Group Head for Global Health Informatics at the Centre for Tropical Medicine at the University of Oxford.

I research the use of Open Source Electronic Health Records (EHR) software, online learning and mobile technology to improve healthcare delivery in low-resource settings.

Our current projects include:

  • Kenyan EHR Survey: We are conducting a survey of EHR systems in use in Kenya
  • Open Source Health IT Simulation: We are conducting a simulation of Health IT infrastructure using Open Source Systems and Cloud Servers
  • HELP: The Health Emergency Learning Platform is a mobile game for training healthcare professionals to deal with emergencies.

In my spare time, I moderate the Health Informatics Forum, an online community of 8,000 health informatics professionals.

Name Department Institution Country
Professor Mike English Tropical Medicine University of Oxford United Kingdom
Associate Professor John Powell Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences University of Oxford United Kingdom

Tuti T, Bitok M, Paton C, Makone B, Malla L, Muinga N, Gathara D, English M. 2016. Innovating to enhance clinical data management using non-commercial and open source solutions across a multi-center network supporting inpatient pediatric care and research in Kenya. J Am Med Inform Assoc, 23 (1), pp. 184-192. Read abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To share approaches and innovations adopted to deliver a relatively inexpensive clinical data management (CDM) framework within a low-income setting that aims to deliver quality pediatric data useful for supporting research, strengthening the information culture and informing improvement efforts in local clinical practice. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The authors implemented a CDM framework to support a Clinical Information Network (CIN) using Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap), a noncommercial software solution designed for rapid development and deployment of electronic data capture tools. It was used for collection of standardized data from case records of multiple hospitals' pediatric wards. R, an open-source statistical language, was used for data quality enhancement, analysis, and report generation for the hospitals. RESULTS: In the first year of CIN, the authors have developed innovative solutions to support the implementation of a secure, rapid pediatric data collection system spanning 14 hospital sites with stringent data quality checks. Data have been collated on over 37 000 admission episodes, with considerable improvement in clinical documentation of admissions observed. Using meta-programming techniques in R, coupled with branching logic, randomization, data lookup, and Application Programming Interface (API) features offered by REDCap, CDM tasks were configured and automated to ensure quality data was delivered for clinical improvement and research use. CONCLUSION: A low-cost clinically focused but geographically dispersed quality CDM (Clinical Data Management) in a long-term, multi-site, and real world context can be achieved and sustained and challenges can be overcome through thoughtful design and implementation of open-source tools for handling data and supporting research. Hide abstract

Triantafyllidis A, Velardo C, Chantler T, Shah SA, Paton C, Khorshidi R, Tarassenko L, Rahimi K, SUPPORT-HF Investigators. 2015. A personalised mobile-based home monitoring system for heart failure: The SUPPORT-HF Study. Int J Med Inform, 84 (10), pp. 743-753. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Despite their potential for improving health outcomes, mobile-based home monitoring systems for heart failure have not yet been taken up widely by the patients and providers. OBJECTIVES: To design and iteratively move towards a personalised mobile health monitoring system for patients living with heart failure, according to their health care and usability needs. METHODS: We present an iterative approach to refining a remote health monitoring system that is based on interactions between different actors (patients, clinicians, social scientists and engineers) and supports the collection of quantitative and qualitative information about user experience and engagement. Patients were provided with tablet computers and commercially available sensing devices (a blood pressure monitor, a set of weighing scales, and a pulse oximeter) in order to complete physiological measurements at home, answer symptom-specific questionnaires, review their personal readings, view educational material on heart failure self-management, and communicate with their health professionals. The system supported unobtrusive remote software upgrades via an application distribution channel and the activation or deactivation of functional components by health professionals during run-time operation. We report early findings from the application of this approach in a cohort of 26 heart failure patients (mean age 72±15 years), their caregivers and healthcare professionals who participated in the SUPPORT-HF (Seamless User-centred Proactive Provision Of Risk-stratified Treatment for Heart Failure) study over a one-year study period (mean patient follow-up duration=270±62 days). RESULTS: The approach employed in this study led to several system upgrades dealing in particular with patient requirements for better communication with the development team and personalised self-monitoring interfaces. Engagement with the system was constantly high throughout the study and during the last week of the evaluation, 23 patients (88%) used the system at least once and 16 patients (62%) at least three times. CONCLUSIONS: Designers of future mobile-based home monitoring systems for heart failure and other chronic conditions could leverage the described approach as a means of meeting patients' needs during system use within the home environment and facilitating successful uptake. Hide abstract

Glover M, Kira A, Gentles D, Cowie N, Paton C, Moetara W. 2014. The WERO group stop smoking competition: main outcomes of a pre- and post- study. BMC Public Health, 14 (1), pp. 599. Read abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: One potential promising strategy for increasing smoking cessation for Māori (Indigenous New Zealanders) and New Zealand resident Pacific Island people is Quit and Win competitions. The current uncontrolled pre and post study, WERO (WERO in Māori language means challenge), differs from previous studies in that it aims to investigate if a stop smoking contest, using both within team support, external support from a team coach and cessation experts, and technology, would be effective in prompting and sustaining quitting. METHOD: Fifteen teams, recruited from urban Māori, rural Māori and urban Pacific communities, competed to win a NZ$5000 (about € 3,000, £ 2600) prize for a charity or community group of their choice. People were eligible if they were aged 18 years and over and identified as smokers. Smoking status was biochemically validated at the start and end of the 3 month competition. At 3-months post competition self-reported smoking status was collected. RESULTS: Fourteen teams with 10 contestants and one team with eight contestants were recruited. At the end of the competition the biochemically verified quit rate was 36%. The 6 months self-reported quit rate was 26%. The Pacific and rural Māori teams had high end of competition and 6 months follow-up quit rates (46% and 44%, and 36% and 29%). CONCLUSION: WERO appeared to be successful in prompting quitting among high smoking prevalence groups. WERO combined several promising strategies for supporting cessation: peer support, cessation provider support, incentives, competition and interactive internet and mobile tools. Though designed for Māori and Pacific people, WERO could potentially be effective for other family- and community-centred cultures. Hide abstract

Paton C, Hansen M, Fernandez-Luque L, Lau AY. 2012. Self-Tracking, Social Media and Personal Health Records for Patient Empowered Self-Care. Contribution of the IMIA Social Media Working Group. Yearb Med Inform, 7 pp. 16-24. Read abstract

OBJECTIVES: This paper explores the range of self-tracking devices and social media platforms used by the self-tracking community, and examines the implications of widespread adoption of these tools for scientific progress in health informatics. METHODS: A literature review was performed to investigate the use of social media and self-tracking technologies in the health sector. An environmental scan identified a range of products and services which were used to exemplify three levels of self-tracking: self-experimentation, social sharing of data and patient controlled electronic health records. RESULTS: There appears to be an increase in the use of self-tracking tools, particularly in the health and fitness sector, but also used in the management of chronic diseases. Evidence of efficacy and effectiveness is limited to date, primarily due to the health and fitness focus of current solutions as opposed to their use in disease management. CONCLUSIONS: Several key technologies are converging to produce a trend of increased personal health surveillance and monitoring, social connectedness and sharing, and integration of regional and national health information systems. These trends are enabling new applications of scientific techniques, from personal experimentation to e-epidemiology, as data gathered by individuals are aggregated and shared across increasingly connected healthcare networks. These trends also raise significant new ethical and scientific issues that will need to be addressed, both by health informatics researchers and the communities of self-trackers themselves. Hide abstract

Atalag K, Kingsford D, Paton C, Warren J. 2010. Putting health record interoperability standards to work Electronic Journal of Health Informatics, 5 (1), Read abstract

This paper provides a snapshot of the current interoperability standards landscape and investigates how different standards are adopted in different jurisdictions. The aim is to provide useful insights for decision makers by looking from a wider angle to include political, social and business drivers rather than taking a purely technical approach. Semantic interoperability, which is a major bottleneck to achieving eHealth systemic interoperability, is dependent on terminology, content and messaging standards. In particular, the architectural aspects of content and messaging standards seem to be critical and currently the subject of many heated debates. A considerable amount of effort into international harmonisation is underway and evidence shows that it may be possible to use different standards and yet still be able to accomplish semantic interoperability. It is recommended that a careful analysis be performed to seek evidence, rather than relying on hearsay, for determining how each standard fulfils certain requirements depending on the context. An environmental scan and literature survey highlights the fact that making a good choice of standards depends on what outcomes are desired, and usually involves selection of a number of different standards to be applied together. It is to be noted that, non-technical aspects of standards, such as acceptance, feasibility of implementation or availability of expertise, are as important, and determine what is achievable. The paper concludes by presenting a number of options which include combinations of standards and also provides insights for the evaluation and selection process. © of articles is retained by authors. Hide abstract

Mabotuwana T, Warren J, Elley CR, Kennelly J, Paton C, Warren D, Chang Wai K, Wells S. 2010. Use of interval based quality indicators in blood pressure management to enhance quality of pay for performance incentives: comparison to two indicators from the Quality and Outcomes Framework. Qual Prim Care, 18 (2), pp. 93-101. Read abstract

BACKGROUND: Pay for performance incentives are becoming increasingly popular, but are typically based on only a single point-in-time measurement as an indicator of chronic condition management. AIMS: To determine the association between three time-interval based indicators of suboptimal blood pressure (BP) control and two point-in-time indicators from the UK Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF): BP5 (the percentage of patients with hypertension in whom the last BP in the previous nine months was < or = 150/90) and DM12 (the percentage of patients with diabetes in whom the last BP in the previous 15 months was < or = 145/85). METHODS: We extracted classification data and BP measurements from four New Zealand general practices with 4260 to 6130 enrolled patients. Data were analysed for three indicators with respect to a nine-month evaluation period for patients with hypertension and a 15-month period for patients with diabetes: (1) two or more consistently high BP measurements spaced over > or = 90 days, (2) a high BP measurement followed by a lapse of >120 days in BP measurement and (3) no BP measurement for >180 days. RESULTS: For the four practices, 65-81% of the patients satisfied BP5 and 59-68% of patients satisfied DM12. Of the hypertension patients satisfying BP5, 31% (95% CI: 28-33%) failed at least one of the three interval based indicators; 42% (95% CI: 39-46%) of the diabetes patients satisfying DM12 failed at least one of the three interval based indicators. CONCLUSION: Considering only a point-in-time controlled BP measurement provides an incomplete view of the quality of BP management in patients with hypertension or diabetes over a period of time. Hide abstract


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