Statistics Meets Digital Health: One Year Into My AusHSI PhD Journey

By Rex Parsons, AusHSI PhD Scholar

Rex Parsons AusHSI

I’m now one year into my PhD at AusHSI and have just completed my confirmation.  I feel incredibly lucky that I got the spot at AusHSI and landed myself in such an incredibly friendly and supportive environment.  I’m supervised by Dr Susanna Cramb (AusHSI), Prof Steven McPhail (AusHSI) and Dr Ahmad Abdel-Hafez (Metro South Hospital and Health Service).

My project is all about developing and evaluating prediction models for hospital falls. To do this, we have partnered with Metro South Health and will be using the data within integrated electronic medical records (ieMR) for patients admitted across any of their hospitals.  I hope to be able to make some models which perform better than existing approaches and show the potential for how the data within the ieMR can be used for prediction models and clinical decision support.

Before I started, when talking with Susanna about what I’d want in a project, I said that I didn’t really care what the topic was as long as I’d get to learn some interesting methods, get some exposure to some statistical and machine learning modelling, come out the other end as a better programmer, and work with nice people. Fortunately, I think my project and working at AusHSI has met all these points and, as a bonus, hospital falls have ended up being more interesting than I had initially thought.

In this first year, I’ve also had the opportunity to complete several courses and get involved with other projects at AusHSI as a statistician and within my role as a Senior Research Assistant. I’ve found that, aside from spicing up my day, getting exposed to many different projects has been useful for developing my skills in general. I’ve also tried (and really enjoyed) tutoring some introductory statistics courses. I recommend that any student take up these sorts of opportunities if they’re available, as they might not be as accessible due to time and availability after their HDR studies.