Academic Profile : No longer with NTU

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Prof Helen Elizabeth Smith
Professor of Family Medicine and Primary Care and Director of Centre for Primary Healthcare Research and Innovation, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine
Professor, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine
Director, Centre for Primary Healthcare Research and Innovation, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine)
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• Fang Yang, Research Fellow
• Chen Shiwei, Research Fellow
• Sarah Burrell, Research Associate
• Aloysius Chow, Research Assistant
• Clarissa Toh, Research Assistant
• Leong Li Zi, Research Assistant
• Melvyn Zhang, PhD Student
• Sabrina Wong, PhD Student
• Lidia Luna Puerta, PhD Student

Professor Helen Smith is the Professor of Family Medicine and Primary Care at LKCMedicine. She graduated in medicine from the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom (UK) and later trained in epidemiology and health services research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and at the University of British Columbia. She has dual accreditations in General Practice and Public Health Medicine and has experience of working in academic, hospital and general practice settings, both in the UK and Canada. Prior to this post, Prof Smith was the foundation professor of Primary Care at Brighton and Sussex Medical School and was Head of the Division of Public Health and Primary Care.

Prof Smith, as one of the leading exponents of Primary Care Research Networks, has made major contributions to primary care internationally. She has developed initiatives to expand research capacity in the specialty and through rigorous trials, strengthened the evidence to improve the care family physicians provide to their patients. The Primary Care Research Network she established in the south of England was the first of its kind and was cited as an example of good practice in the Department of Health’s Strategic Review of Primary Care. Subsequently, similar research networks were replicated throughout the UK. Prof Smith was foundation chair of the UK Federation of Primary Care Networks and also co-founded the International Federation, an organisation under the umbrella of World Organisation of Family Doctors (WONCA). Her advice on the development of academic family medicine and building of research capacity has been sought by many countries.

Throughout her career, Prof Smith’s research has focused on the evaluation of novel ways of delivering health services and ‘new technologies’ for primary health care. For example, her trials in the organisation of health care transformed the provision of out-of-hours care, improved the provision of minor surgery services in the community and changed the appointment booking system for patients wishing to see their general practitioner. She has over 170 publications in peer reviewed journals and has a strong track record of attracting research and research infrastructure grants, particularly with multidisciplinary teams.
Prof Smith’s research expertise is in the design of randomised controlled trials and mixed method (qualitative and quantitative) evaluation. She is currently focusing on a program of research on the management of respiratory and musculoskeletal disorders in the non-specialist setting. Her research has developed in response to the increasing prevalence of chronic illnesses, the recognition that they impact significantly on patients’ quality of life and outcomes are less good when not actively managed.

Her work on the evaluation of psychological interventions cuts across different clinical areas (including respiratory, obstetrics and psychiatry). The current management of many disorders focuses principally on pharmacological treatments, frequently with a strong underlying evidence base. However, in clinical practice, poor symptom control can remain problematic for patients. Whilst individual case reports and some trials support the use of psychological interventions as an adjunct to pharmacological therapy, the evidence is not consistent and when synthesised in meta-analyses, no firm conclusions can be drawn. A program of rigorous research is needed to improve on the methodology of existing evaluations.

Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine is committed to the development of the discipline of academic family medicine and primary care for Singapore. In preparation for this, Prof Smith plans to conduct a mapping and scoping exercise of existing research in primary care within the region. This, together with a survey of Family Physicians and General Practitioners, will help inform the design and implementation of a Primary Care Research Network for Singapore.
  • A Choice for Life - Education about Diabetes in a Fully Immersive Environment (VR)
  • Advancing precision medicine for cardiovascular disease and diabetes in Asian populations
  • Conversations for life: Laying the groundwork for more effective communication in palliative care
  • Health Literacy: The Household as an Unexplored Dimension
  • Intergenerational Digital Media Socialisation for Enhancing Elderly Digital and Health Literacy
  • Patients with gout - their journeys from symptoms to management: implications for health care in Singapore
  • Performing self-wound care at home: development and validation of a Singapore patient acceptance survey
  • Precision Population Health. Effective communication and scalable personalized interventions for prevention of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes
  • Primary Healthcare Network
  • Proactive career planning and development for Singapore Female Health Professionals
  • Reducing respiratory disease in the community - mapping the potential for greater involvement for the private primary care sector
  • The Strategic Development of the Centre for Primary Healthcare Research and Innovation
  • The Strategic Development of the Centre for Primary Healthcare Research and Innovation (NHG)
  • Transitions to Practice
  • Using Evidence Mapping and Feasibility Trails Studies to Develop an Externally Funded Portfolio of Family Medicine Research