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Harnessing the power of electronic medical records with data analytics in back pain


This program of research will evaluate the use of digital technology and data analytics to drive practice change and improve healthcare for back pain.


Dr Gustavo Machado, Professor Chris Maher.

Research location

Camperdown - School of Public Health

Program type



Every year, there are more than 50,000 presentations of low back pain to NSW emergency departments, which generates huge costs to the healthcare system ($560 million). Despite high quality evidence being available, it is well known that management of these patients is suboptimal. Imaging is over ordered, and opioid medications are over prescribed. Better management of low back pain in the emergency department, therefore, has the potential to reduce harms to a large volume of patients and save health dollars. Prior to the development of the STARS Back Pain Application with Qlik SenseĀ®, time poor, front-line clinicians did not receive clinically relevant feedback about their management of these patients. Lack of real-time feedback has meant a lost opportunity to identify clinical variation, drive practice change, and conduct low cost, high-quality, patient- centred research in this area. Clinicians can now access detailed and real-time data and interact with the data according to their needs. Our innovation is also an opportunity to hugely accelerate the translation of evidence-based medicine into clinical practice.The PhD/MPhil students will be based at King George V Building, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and working with a large dataset collected using the STARS Back Pain Application. They will also be involved in projects evaluating the use of this technology in driving practice change in hospital and emergency settings.

Additional information

Dr Gustavo Machado is an NHMRC Early Career Fellow at the Institute for Musculoskeletal Health. He is also an associate member of the Australia & New Zealand Musculoskeletal (ANZMUSC) Clinical Trials Network and an invited member of the low back pain guideline development committee within the European Pain Federation (EFIC).Prof Chris Maher is director of the Institute for Musculoskeletal Health, a research partnership between Sydney Local Health District and The University of Sydney. He is an NHMRC Principal Research Fellow, a fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and visiting professor at the University of Oxford.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2519