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Health Economics: the true cost of medical errors

by YPU Admin on August 30, 2019, Comments. Tags: BMH, Health, health economics, NHS, patient safety, and Pharmacy


Hi there, my name is Leonie Brinkmann. I am a German pharmacist and started my PhD at the University of Manchester about two years ago. I work in the field of health economics. Health economics is a branch of economics that tries to evaluate health care services or new medications from an economic perspective without neglecting the value of health. This combines a medical background knowledge, data analysis and statistics. I myself, for example, focus on patient safety.  Using big data sets of electronic health records I try to identify specific patients with medication errors to see how many of the medication errors lead to harm for the patient.

In Depth…

I am a pharmacist by background and did my undergraduate at the University of Heidelberg. Pharmacy is a great subject that combines biology, chemistry, physiology and pharmacology. I was always interested in medicines and diseases, but I cannot see blood. So studying medicine was off the table, but pharmacy happened to be the prefect trade off!

I enjoyed my undergraduate a lot, but it included long hours in the laboratory. Lab work was never something I enjoyed. I found it rather boring… But luckily as pharmacist you have loads of other opportunities in community pharmacies, industry, hospital or research.

I was very lucky to get a job as clinical pharmacist in a hospital. My main objective was to increase patient safety on the wards. I had a great time going from ward to ward, identifying patients with medication errors, and telling the doctors or nurses off that made the error.  It always felt a bit like being the safety police of the hospital.

But at some point I felt like I wanted to study again, I wanted to learn something new and be challenged a bit more. That’s when I decided to do a PhD. I found a great project that took the work I was doing in the hospital on a small scale to another level. Before I was looking through the patient’s health records by hand, now I am evaluating a computer programme that automatically screens all electronic health records of a patient and identifies medication errors. The pharmacists does not need to screen each patient, but can focus on how to communicate medication errors to the responsible doctor.

The burden of medication errors is estimated to be about £89.1 million per year for the NHS. This highlights how important it is for the NHS to invest in programmes that aim to reduce medication errors.  But unfortunately, the NHS does not have endless money to fund great ideas like this. That’s where health economics becomes interesting, because we can show the value of money of the new computer programme. To do so I am using electronic health records from GP-practices and hospitals to investigate the relationship between medication errors, patient harm and costs. Quantifying the burden of medication errors enables us to estimate the true value for money of the computer programme. Results on the value for money of such programmes aims to aid decision making  by policy makers on whether to fund such programmes or not.

So if you like numbers, you are not scared of statistics and you want to make the NHS a bit safer, this is the perfect opportunity for you!

Going Further…

Learn more about Pharmacy

Little introduction video to understand what health economics is about (only 3 minutes)

Learn more about what we do as health economists in our newsletter

What are electronic health records that I use in my PhD project

Why are health records important for research?


Health Promotion in High Schools

by YPU Admin on March 15, 2018, Comments. Tags: Health Education, Pharmacy, PhD, and Research


My name is Emma and I’m currently in my first year of a Health Education England funded PhD within the Division of Pharmacy and Optometry at the University of Manchester. My A-Levels were in Maths, Biology and Chemistry and in 2011 I started a Master’s degree in pharmacy, again at the University of Manchester.

After I graduated from university in 2015 I completed a one year professional training programme at Warrington and Halton NHS Foundation Trust. At the end of this year I sat the General Pharmaceutical Council Pre-Registration exam and qualified as a pharmacist in summer 2016. For the next year I worked for Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust as a junior clinical pharmacist and although I did enjoy this job, it was at the start of 2017 I applied for my PhD.

In July 2017 I started my PhD at the University of Manchester. My research is focussed on developing a compulsory course for undergraduate pharmacy students to deliver health promotion workshops to high schools students using the teaching style of peer education.

In depth

The principal of peer education is simply that people are likely to learn more from individuals of a similar social status to themselves than from more traditional authority figures. This social status is usually determined by age but it can also be based on other factors such as ethnicity, gender or religion. Peer education can be used in many situations to teach various different topics, including health promotion.

Health promotion involves giving people information to take control and improve their own health. It is important as it can help change personal behaviours that can lead to disease and morbidity. Some of these health behaviours can start early on in life so targeting health promotion within schools is essential.

My research is therefore based around 3rd year pharmacy students delivering health promotion workshops to Year 9 and 10 pupils within schools around Greater Manchester. The workshop topics include mental health, sexual health and alcohol awareness. The pharmacy students must each deliver a workshop each in small groups as part of their degree course. The analysis of the workshops will include if the high school students improved their knowledge about the topic and also how the experience as a whole affected the pharmacy students.

Going further

To find out what we’re up to in Division of Pharmacy and Optometry follow us on twitter: @UoM_PharmOptPGR