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Innovative Digital Health Project To Improve Patient Care In Remote Communities

By Irish Pharmacist - 01st Nov 2022

Digital Health

Researchers at the Health Innovation Via Engineering (HIVE) Laboratory, University of Galway, will use state-of-the-art medical device technology, including remote sensors and artificial intelligence software, as part of a suite of interventions to deliver next-generation chronic disease management in the community. 

Modern medicine has meant that people are living longer and correspondingly there has been an increase in chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, and therefore new approaches are needed to deliver this care efficiently and effectively, as was evidenced during Covid public health restrictions. 

The Home Health project combines video consultations with remote physiological monitoring, including blood pressure, weight, and blood sugar, to deliver more useful virtual care. 

It aims, through supporting and adding to existing healthcare provision, to improve the management of patient care for the 165 residents on Clare Island and make the island a beacon for the delivery of digital health solutions. 

Its multi-stakeholder engagement will ensure a sustainable and scalable solution is created though the Health Service Executive living lab framework, said the researchers. 

Dr Noreen Curtis, GP in Clare Island, said: “I am very excited with the Home Health project and anticipate that improving virtual care will augment the current services and improve overall care for the patients here.” 

Project Principal Investigator and CÚRAM-Funded Investigator Prof Derek O’Keeffe said: “Digital health is the future of medicine and data empowers the patient and allows them and their clinicians to make better medical decisions.” 

The Home Health project will also investigate the development of a dynamic medical appointments architecture, whereby patients are scheduled to be reviewed based on clinical need rather than the traditional static calendar appointments. In addition, the project will evaluate novel health promotion interventions, drone delivery of medications, and robotic triage simulation. 

To overcome the digital divide, a central part of the project is the development of a new private 5G network on the island to enable monitoring of data. 

Brian Jordan, Head of Innovation and Industry Solutions, Cisco Ireland, said: “There is a transformative opportunity to map virtual care digital technology to the entire patient care continuum. Bridging the capabilities of AI, connectivity, the world of IOT -enabled medical devices and cybersecurity will enable this.” 

Commenting on the significance of the project, CÚRAM Director Prof Abhay Pandit said: “This project is one of the largest industry collaborations our centre has supported to date. It is an excellent example of the impact that collaborations between CÚRAM and industry can have on local communities and society at wide.” 

As well as CÚRAM and Cisco, the project has multiple stakeholders, including the island community, HSE and the Western Development Commission. Public Patient Involvement (PPI) is a central theme of the HOME HEALTH project, having the island community involved in all aspects of the project planning, development and implementation. 

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