Title Clinical and Scientific Computing
Type Stage One
Code HPE100
Requirement Compulsory

Module objective

By the end of this module the Clinical Scientist in HSST will understand the contribution that Clinical and Scientific Computing brings to Medical Physics services. They will be able to identify potential computing solutions to clinical scientific problems and evaluate those solutions within governance and ethical frameworks. They will understand the requirements of staff and resource management, maintenance and development in enhancing safe clinical and scientific computing services. They will be equipped to facilitate the delivery of software solutions using appropriate software engineering principles.

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this module the Clinical Scientist in HSST will analyse, synthesise, evaluate and apply their expert knowledge with respect to:

  • Legislation relating to medical devices, instrument and software development, data security and network management, plus associated guidance documents.
  • Implications of the legal requirements for clinical data storage and archiving.
  • Mechanisms required to maintain confidentiality, integrity and access for clinical data held electronically, as applied in healthcare.
  • Information Communications Technology (ICT) standards applicable to healthcare (e.g. Digital Imaging and Communication in Medicine (DICOM), Health Level 7 (HL7)).
  • Network and communication protocols (e.g. Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), Secure Shell (SSH)).
  • Software engineering principles – the product life cycle, including specification, design, implementation, quality assurance and testing, documentation, upgrade and eventual replacement.
  • Relational database principles.
  • The uses, value and risk in virtualisation and in cloud computing, including third party storage of clinical data.
  • The use of formal project management techniques in the wider management of clinical and scientific computing projects.

With regard to their local Medical Physics Service(s):

  • The variety and utility of hardware.
  • The software development tools.
  • The range of clinical software applications, including the various operating systems, hardware platforms and networking arrangements.
  • Arrangements for the procurement, maintenance, quality assurance, upgrade and replacement of the computer systems used.
  • How clinical computer system faults are reported, remedied and documented.
  • Clinical data pathways and the associated requirements for clinical governance, data protection and data exchange.

Technical and clinical skills

Clinical Scientists in HSST will be able to identify potential opportunities for developing computing solutions to Medical Physics problems and be capable of leading such solutions. Achievement of this ability can be demonstrated through involvement in the following activities:

Analysis of current computing solutions in use, including:

  • Compilation of an inventory of the training department hardware, including capital and ongoing costs.
  • Compilation of an inventory of the applications software, including capital and ongoing costs.
  • Analysis of the networking arrangements, including data flows in the service and the interconnections to other hospital systems.
  • Critical evaluation of the clinical and scientific computing hardware, software and integration problems that arise within the service.
  • A review the adequacy of the staff support provided for clinical and scientific computing.
  • System procurements, commissioning, upgrades and succession plans.

Clinical database systems, including:

  • Exploration of relational database practice, for example using MySQL or PostgreSQL for exercises in relational database design, schema and normalisation.
  • Exploration of the work involved in extracting data from clinical relational databases using SQL and report generators.

The identification, planning, commissioning and involvement in the provision of a computing solution to a Medical Physics problem involving at least one of the following:

  • software development
  • database design
  • interconnectivity
  • computer modelling

through which the Clinical Scientists in HSST will demonstrate management of development projects that meet the needs of the service, seeking appropriate detailed assistance when necessary.

The Clinical Scientist in HSST will critically reflect on their own abilities as they develop a range of scientific, technical, clinical and communication skills, to be safely involved in the management of computing projects. In particular they should be able to:

  • Critically evaluate the clinical and scientific computing hardware, software and integration problems that arise within the service and liaise with clinical staff, IT and informatics staff and system suppliers to effectively resolve these problems.
  • Analyse clinical data transfer processes currently in place or required for higher management and other agencies, including the appropriate use of anonymisation tools where patient data are concerned.
  • Overview the clinical computer management activities that maintain the level of service provision, with particular reference to the need for adequate staff cover.


Attitudes and behaviours

The Clinical Scientist in HSST should be expected to evaluate their own response to both normal and complex situations, demonstrating the professional attributes and insights and working within the limits of professional competence, referring as appropriate to senior staff. They should be able to:

  • Ensure that the needs of the wider service users are considered in the development of clinical and scientific computing systems.
  • Remain up to date with relevant standards, guidelines and legislation related to medical devices (including software), the safeguarding of data, the use of quality systems and the use of medical devices on IT networks.
  • Consult with peers to encourage the local integration of developments in national and international informatics systems.
  • Justify the need to balance data confidentiality, security and protection, and the sharing of data with relevant stakeholders, including, where appropriate, patients, to ensure high-quality patient-centred care.
  • Promote quality assurance and programmes of continual improvement with regard to clinical and scientific computing systems.
  • Cooperate with agents such as trust IT departments, equipment suppliers and other agencies that contribute to the service provision.


Code Title Action
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