Buckinghamshire: £70,000 grant boosts Buckinghamshire New University

A project led by Buckinghamshire New University is celebrating a boost of almost £70,000 from a government grant and is looking to get ahead of the game in identifying health technology needs and solutions. 

The ITALIA (Innovative Telehealth and Assisted Living Ideas and Applications) project is among 12 university and NHS recipients of grants totalling £750,000 awarded by the Intellectual Property Office to create products and services for business and society.

The grants have been awarded by the government body in its annual Fast Forward Competition, where universities and public sector research bodies are encouraged to work on projects that would benefit from research.

Telehealth involves health-related services and information, which could range from health professionals talking with patients over the telephone to complex surgery being completed in different areas of the world.

The ITALIA project, which received a grant of £69,692, runs over 12 months and will use workshops and events to develop innovative new ideas in the area, and in turn help health services in the future.

The project will be run by the Centre of Excellence for Telehealth and Assisted Living (CETAL) at Bucks New University, in partnership with Buckinghamshire Business First (BBF); Buckinghamshire County Council; Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust; The National Spinal Injuries Centre (NSIC) at Stoke Mandeville Hospital; Aylesbury Vale District Council and the organisation GrowthAccelerator.

CETAL director Firas Sarhan said: “This project will be a great opportunity to have private and public sector roundtable discussions to address key issues related to how technology, in particular telehealth, can be used to remote-manage patients, including those with a range of long-term conditions.

“The essence of our project will be the development of telehealth solutions to address key health issues encountered by clinicians and help them collect and analyse essential patient-related clinical data, permitting effective management through efficient interaction between clinicians and patients at home.

“A classic example will be the use of ‘telemonitoring’, which we are looking into. It involves remotely monitoring patients who are not at the same location as the healthcare provider. This is expanding rapidly in healthcare for patients with chronic conditions, as it detects a patient’s disease symptoms earlier. This can lead to improved clinical outcomes, greater patient self-management and less costly interventions by other health bodies.”

CETAL works with the organisations providing education for carers and health professionals, and consultancy to private companies and healthcare providers. It has developed packages to provide consultancy as well as educational and technological support to help deal with long-term conditions such as diabetes and dementia, care of the elderly, and neurological and mental health conditions.

The Fast Forward Competition organised by the Intellectual Property Office has run for three years and in that time it has awarded £2 million in funding to 35 projects.