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Cutting-edge tech to help those with chronic illnesses to be treated at home

Posted on: 10 Jun 2016

Cutting-edge tech to help those with chronic illnesses to be treated at home

A new, cutting edge digital health technology project led by Trinity College Dublin will enable older people with multiple chronic diseases to self-manage their conditions and to be cared for in their own homes. Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Helen McEntee launched the new digital health research programme ‘ProACT’ today [June 8th] that has been awarded €4.87 million under the European Union’s (EU) Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme. Led by the Trinity Centre for Practice and Healthcare Innovation (TCPHI), the project brings together an EU consortium of research institutions, SMEs, health service providers, EU networks and multinational ICT companies IBM and Philips.

‘ProACT’ when complete will be the first cloud based, digital solution of its kind in Ireland and Europe to specifically support home based integrated care and management for older adults (aged 65 and over) with multiple chronic health conditions. The technologies will be focused on facilitating behavioural and lifestyle changes for older people living at home and will link with their care support network. It aims to enable older individuals to live independently in their community for as long as possible.

Commenting on its significance, the newly appointed Minister McEntee said:  “Supporting older people and the challenges they face in later years is a priority for us in Government. ‘ProACT’ is just one of example of how this can be achieved by providing a unified approach to integrated care, centred on the patient at home with support from caregivers, social care workers, community based GPs, pharmacists and hospital based clinicians. I am delighted to be launching this project today as it clearly will help people to remain in their own homes in the community as they grow older.”

Provost and President, Dr Patrick Prendergast of Trinity College said: “Addressing the challenges of ageing is a priority for Trinity researchers. ‘ProACT’ is a prime example of how important this research is for the benefit of all in society. It brings together clinical and health research, data solutions and ICT, and will lead to the development of new technologies with the overall aim of improving older people’s lives. Joined by international partners and industry, it will deliver cutting edge innovation that will make a real difference for all of us as we grow older.”

The first phase of the research programme will target integrated care for diabetes, chronic heart disease, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and age related cognitive decline. It has the potential to be further developed to address all chronic disease conditions, across all age groups.

Through the new ‘ProACT’ system a range of new and existing care applications, sensors and healthcare technology devices will be linked. Customised interfaces will allow patients and their network of carers, GPs, pharmacists and hospital-based clinicians to access the system via their tablet, smartphone or computer, in order to input and access relevant information from one centralised location for the support of home-based, digital, integrated healthcare.

Currently, 50 million patients in Europe suffer from two or more chronic conditions (or multimorbidity). More than 70% of healthcare costs are spent on the management of chronic diseases with an overall expenditure in the EU of €700 billion annually. In Ireland, there are approximately 16,000 people aged 65 and over with multimorbidity. The four main types of chronic diseases are cardiovascular disease (e.g. congestive heart failure), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (e.g. COPD) and diabetes.

Commenting on the current situation for patients, Dr John Dinsmore, lead academic and coordinator of the ProACT project said:

“Care for patients with two or more chronic diseases is frequently repetitive and inefficient, involving multiple appointments that are often inconvenient and burdensome. Patients sometimes receive confusing and conflicting advice that could also be potentially unsafe, for example due to medication interactions. This poorly integrated and coordinated care has a range of negative consequences for the health and quality of life of patients and their carers, but also at a broader societal level in terms of healthcare resources.

With ProACT we will aim to improve patient engagement by empowering the patient to proactively manage their conditions and to promote a sense of ownership over their health and their care. The system will also seek to improve training and support, particularly for informal caregivers within the home, in order to help reinforce positive health management and lifestyle changes for patients aged over 65.”

By developing new proactive, home based healthcare models that use digital technologies, it is possible to challenge the single disease framework of chronic disease management and provide new flexible, patient-centred solutions to support the management multiple conditions. To achieve this ‘ProACT’ will develop a new cloud-based, open application programming interface (API) to integrate new and existing technologies to support individuals with multiple chronic conditions. Technologies the system will support include home based sensors and wearable technology to track and provide personalised clinical and non-clinical feedback to patients.

The ProACT research programme will take place across two primary trial sites in Ireland and Belgium, with a system transferability trial planned in Italy in 2018. It will take over three years to complete and from 2019 future development work could see the system rolled out across a range of disease conditions and age groups.

John Barton,  Researcher, Tyndall National Institute said: "The Tyndall Wireless Sensor Network team will be developing new assistive technologies for integration in to the ProACT ecosystem based around our experience in wearable, wireless inertial movement detection, gait monitoring and biomechanical modelling."

Commenting on their involvement in ProACT, industry partners, said:

Lab Director, IBM Research – Ireland, Eleni Pratsini said: “We welcome ProACT as a unique opportunity to tap into the multidisciplinary expertise of service providers, industry players and academic partners. The team at IBM Research - Ireland will investigate how cognitive, cloud-based analytics can be extended to provide a consolidated view of the individual helping to drive behavioural change and enable better outcomes.”

Sybo Dijkstra, Senior Director, Philips UK said:  “Integrated health systems and connected technologies can improve the quality of care for patients and have a positive impact on the health of populations. We are, therefore, delighted to be part of this research programme which seeks to help improve patient self-management and care collaboration via new technologies and care delivery models.”

About ‘ProAct’ Consortium

This project is led from Ireland, coordinated by Trinity College Dublin, and brings together 12 partner organisations across 6 EU Member states, all with a proven track record in the fields of integrated care, clinical and health research, patient and stakeholder engagement, data solutions, and ICT-AT design and development.

Trinity College Dublin www.tcd.ie is a world-leading University with an outstanding record for high-impact research publications and research funding. The College has a number of major research programmes relevant to ProACT, including Telecommunications, Neuroscience, Ageing and Independent Living, Digital Arts and Humanities, and Intelligent Systems. The proposal will be coordinated by the Trinity Centre for Practice and Healthcare Innovation (TCPHI) based within the School of Nursing and Midwifery. Established in 2012 the Centre has a core focus on Digital Integrated Care built on national and EU health based funded research projects linking patients, health professionals, services, policy groups and industry.

https://www.tcd.ie/cphi/

IBM Research Ireland was established in July 2010 and is one of the company’s 9 research labs based outside the US. IBM researchers push the boundaries of science, technology and business to make the world work better. The company has the world’s largest research organisations, with more than 3,000 scientists and engineers working in 12 labs, on 6 continents.

https://www.research.ibm.com/labs/ireland/

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a leading health technology company focused on improving people’s health and enabling better outcomes across the health continuum from healthy living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment and home care. Philips leverages advanced technology and deep clinical and consumer insights to deliver integrated solutions. The company is a leader in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring and health informatics, as well as in consumer health and home care. Philips’ wholly owned subsidiary Philips Lighting is the global leader in lighting products, systems and services. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips posted 2015 sales of EUR 24.2 billion and employs approximately 105,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. News about Philips can be found at www.philips.com/newscenter

The Netwell-CASALA centre at Dundalk Institute of Technology (Ireland) is a cross-sectoral, multi-disciplinary research centre aimed at developing new ideas to support ageing-in-place and enhance the quality of life and well-being of older adults through technology, community, and environment-based interventions.

http://www.netwellcasala.org/

iMinds (Belgium) is an independent research institute founded by the Flemish government to stimulate ICT innovation. The institute brings together more than 8000 researchers from a range of universities and knowledge centres, along with companies, authorities and not-for-profit organisations.

https://www.iminds.be/en

The UCC-Tyndall National Institute (Ireland) was founded in 1982, and has since developed to become the leading Information and Communications Technology (ICT) research institute in Ireland, employing over 450 staff and students, and supporting industry and academic across the country.

https://www.tyndall.ie/

AIAS Bologna (Italy) is an Italian association for individuals with functional limitations and disabilities, their family members and friends. It is also a SME with approximately 100 employees, working in centres for day care, residential care, home care and social care. AIAS as more than 30 years of experience with Assistive Technology and Ambient Assisted Living solutions.

http://www.aiasbo.it/

Treelogic (Spain) is an R&D intensive company which provides customers with information and communication technology-based solutions, with the aim of creating, boosting, developing and adapting scientific and technological knowledge to improve daily life. The company employs over 150 staff who provide a range of services including consultancy, application development, integration and maintenance.

http://www.treelogic.com/home

Home Instead Senior Care (Ireland) is the global leader in providing homecare for seniors. The company developed and implemented its franchise model for in-home non-medical care in the US, and has now deployed this model to more than 19 countries worldwide. Home Instead Senior Care began operating in Ireland in 2005, and now has 19 offices nationwide.

http://www.homeinstead.ie/

The Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe (AAATE) (Austria) is a pan-European sector organisation with members in more than 20 countries, aiming to increase the number of people with functional limitations that effectively use technology based assistive solutions to support participation and inclusion in all areas of life.

http://aaate.net/

The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) (Belgium) represents over 10,000 service provider organisations at a European level. EASPD has 128 direct members from 29 Member countries. The main objective of EASPD is to promote the equalisation of opportunities for people with disabilities through effective and high quality service systems.

http://www.easpd.eu/

ASP Citta di Bologna (Italy) aims to provide integrated social and health services for the older and disabled adults to ensure better quality of life. This public organisation also focuses on innovative actions for the prevention of social emergencies and the promotion of social inclusion.