News and Comment

Evaluation Framework led by OPM’s Heather Heathfield selected to highlight impact made by UK academic Computer Science Research in new report

Friday 7 August 2015

The Project Review and Objective Evaluation (PROBE) toolkit led by OPM’s Dr Heather Heathfield has been selected by the UK Computing Research Committee (UKCRC), Council of Professors and Heads of Computing (CPHC) and British Computer Society (BCS) Academy as a case study for a new report highlighting the impact made by UK academic Computer Science Research over the period 2008 – 2013.

Designed initially to identify the barriers that prevented the NHS from adopting electronic health records, PROBE is based on a six step evaluation process, in which decision makers would be asked to agree on why an evaluation was needed; when; what and how to evaluate; analyse and report and finally to assess recommendations and decide on a course of action. Since its revised publication in 2001, PROBE has sparked the NHS to look at evaluation as a key strand of major IT projects, and has become a central part of NHS information strategy and policy.

Overview of the Evaluation Process

In 2012, NHS Connecting for Health’s Head of Patient and Public Partnerships praised Dr Heathfield’s work as having “greatly improved understanding of ICT projects” by focusing analysis on the important questions, and providing more information on the tools and techniques available for effective evaluation.

The PROBE methodology is still widely used in the UK. For example, it was employed by the National Patient Safety Agency to evaluate systems designed to improve the safety of blood transfusions.

The full interview with Dr Heathfield can be found in Chapter 6 of ‘The Impact made by UK Academic Computer Science Research’ report.