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'Learning lab' aims to boost NHS digital technology uptake

Research facility is a partnership between Warwick University and Bosch Healthcare

A new UK research programme has been launched to test digital healthcare programmes and improve NHS uptake of technologies for people with life-threatening and chronic illnesses.

The Institute of Digital Healthcare (IDH) has been set up under a partnership between the University of Warwick and telecare company Bosch Healthcare.

Professor Christopher James, professor of healthcare technology and director of the IDH, said: “In the UK we face an unprecedented need for improved understanding of digital healthcare technology and the benefits it can provide to both clinician and end-user.

“The Lab will ultimately become a major resource for 'road testing' the effectiveness of technology and the systems it exists within to provide the best possible outcomes.”

A key part of these plans is to improve telehealth knowledge among patients, clinicians, staff, GPs, students, young clinicians and general public, and as part of this IDH will offer a Digital Healthcare MSc course.

Although the UK is at the forefront of European ehealth initiatives, particularly after its Whole System Demonstrator telehealth pilot showed such striking results last year, the case for telehealth has still to be proved.

“By far the largest hurdle to the acceptance of telehealth has been the lack of robust evidence on outcomes to justify the investment,” the King's Fund's senior fellow of health policy Nick Goodwin wrote in July.

The IDH Learning Lab will design new technologies and evaluate existing ones, beginning with two large telehealth studies, which the IDH and Bosch say could benefit up to 3,000 patients.

The first will examine a personalised cancer care pathway based on Bosch's Health Buddy system and will look to assess how telehealth improves quality of life, behaviour, cost effectiveness and mortality rates.

The second project is focused on a novel approach to chronic disease management with a multi-professional telehealth system in vascular diseases and forms part of a wider study into chronic diseases.

In addition to Bosch, IDH plans to work with partners from the NHS, local authorities, academia and industry on healthcare activities.

26th October 2012

From: Healthcare

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