• The research is a collaboration between Oxford Internet Institute, The Oxford Department of Engineering Science, and the Oxford Martin School.
  • This project looks at the automation of work in general practice surgeries.
  • The project aims for the discovery of novel applications of automation in the GP setting as well as to understand how automation will impact health care work. 

Computerisation and automation are changing employment practices across all sectors. The rapid progress of the digital age has already seen new technologies being preferred to human labour for a diverse range of tasks, as evidenced by stagnant real median wages and a decreasing share of GDP paid for labour across the OECD. Looking ahead there is continued progress in autonomous robots that will replace truck drivers and hospital porters. Driven by big data sets, intelligent machine learning algorithms allow machines to substitute sales assistants and legal secretaries and will continue to disrupt even hitherto protected sectors. What is not yet well understood, however, is how these changes will have an impact in the health sector. Additionally, with the strain on GP finances and resources it appears that automation may offer a respite from overworked staff and budget cuts.

This project involves two phases. The first is designed to underpin latter computational models and algorithms with qualitative data from observations, interviews, document collection, video, and ethnographic fieldwork in general practice surgeries. We are also keen to include the patient perspective and explore how the automation of GP work will impact the patient experience. The second phase uses these qualitative data collected in phase one to develop quantitative models, algorithmic development, and inform machine learning methods that will illuminate each tasks automation probability.

Anticipated outcomes

The quantitative framework and machine learning methods developed during the project will help to identify opportunities and challenges for automation in the GP ecosystem. The project is scoped to run until September 2018.

Contact details

For more information, contact Shaun Leamon, Research Manager at the Health Foundation, or email Dr Matt Willis, lead researcher on the project, at matthew.willis@oii.ox.ac.uk

Chief Investigator: Professor Eric Meyer, eric.meyer@oii.ox.ac.uk

Outputs and Links

Visit the project website.

All future publications and project outputs will be announced on the website and made available.

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