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Home Clinical Clinical News Clinical research saves money

Clinical research saves money

A new report from the Health Research Board (HRB) has proven the benefits of investing in clinical research in Ireland, pointing to numerous headline-generating Irish studies on stroke, prescribing practices and healthcare infections.

A Picture of Health 2010 states that Irish health research is making an impact locally and globally. “The report demonstrates the potential impact of HRB-funded research on people’s health, health service efficiency and the economy. It shows the progress that is being made in health research, from medical discoveries and creating new devices and therapies, to innovating healthcare policy or practice and changing people’s attitudes and behaviours around health,” said Mr Enda Connolly, Chief Executive of the HRB.


“Given the economic challenges that we face over the coming years, it is essential that health research demonstrates the contribution it can make; not only for people’s health, but also in terms of driving innovation and efficiency in the health service and creating commercial opportunities that will benefit our economy.”

However, these findings must be applied in policy and practice in order to reap the benefit of knowledge to drive change, reduce costs and still improve outcomes, he added. The publication is a snapshot of HRB-funded research in 2009/2010 and outlines some of the achievements stemming from more than 200 researchers working across ten hospitals and ten third-level institutions who completed research projects in 2009.

One team in Univeristy College Cork (UCC) and Teagasc discovered that bacteria found in cheese and yoghurt release the antibiotic bacteriocin, which can kill invading or competing bacteria. The natural antibiotic stops infections from growing and early tests indicate that the bacteriocins are as good, if not better, than standard antibiotics, according to the UCC researchers. They are using bioengineering techniques to make the bacteriocins even better killers of MRSA and other superbugs.

Another UCC team developed a medication review tool called STOPP (Screening Tool of Older Persons’ potentially inappropriate Prescriptions) and START (Screening Tool to Alert to Right Treatment) to reduce the prescription of unnecessary or potentially harmful drugs to older people admitted to hospital. The STOPP/START recommendations and criteria have now been implemented as an audit tool in several countries, resulting in significant improvements in prescribing quality.

Clinical Support Information Systems, who are commercialising the tool, estimate that applied across 50 hospitals in Ireland at a cost of €14 million, the approach could reap savings of up to €180 million in unnecessary prescription costs as well as reduce hospital costs. Details of all the studies are available on www.hrb.ie.



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