£10m intelligent healthcare technologies research to support self-management of chronic conditions

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has invested £10million to fund eight new research projects to help people self-manage chronic conditions, such as COPD and diabetes, at home while linked to support from carers and clinicians.

The research will take place at seven UK universities and will involve over 30 partners from industry, charities and the public sector who will add contributions worth over three quarters of a million pounds.

It will explore how to improve the use and development of networks that connect patients, and those supporting them, to clinicians and treatment. It will investigate how using wearable devices like sensors, smart-watches, activity and heart rate monitors can allow clinicians to get the right sort of data to make choices and advise patients.

The studies will use conditions such as COPD, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and dementia as examples to test technology and systems’ designs. The projects have different emphases, some will concentrate on how systems can be made more intelligent and interpret data coming into them, while others will develop and refine sensors and monitoring equipment and ensure they can be accessed securely.

“Monitoring chronic conditions through outpatients’ clinics is both costly and time consuming for patients, surgeries and hospitals,” said Professor Philip Nelson, chief executive of the EPSRC. “Using these new technologies provides ways of gauging a patient’s health in real-time and detecting any deterioration quickly. This will help people remain in their homes for longer, avoid congestion and delay and mean treatment can be targeted quickly and when it can be most appropriate and effective.”