Imperial researchers who are developing technology to help people manage chronic conditions like COPD at home were awarded 2.7million GBP this week.
The funding, for two Imperial College London projects, is part of a £10 million investment by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in projects that will help people manage chronic conditions themselves at home, while linked to support from carers and clinicians.
The projects aim to give patients more control over their conditions whilst easing some pressure off of clinics and healthcare professionals.
Using these new technologies provides ways of gauging a patient’s health in real-time and detecting any deterioration quickly.
– Professor Philip Nelson, Chief Executive of EPSRC
Professor Philip Nelson, Chief Executive of EPSRC, explained: “The UK has an aging population and the demands on our health services are growing. Monitoring chronic conditions through outpatients’ clinics is both costly and time consuming for patients, surgeries and hospitals. 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.”
The two Imperial projects, based in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, are:
An adaptive, real time, intelligent system to enhance self-care of chronic disease (ARISES)
ARISES is a smartphone-based app with an artificial intelligence element that is expected to help people with diabetes manage their own glucose levels and improve their lifestyle. It will pool data from multiple sources such as smartwatches, activity monitors, heart rate monitors and continuous glucose sensors. These data will help the algorithm adapt to individual behaviours and lifestyles. It will then use artificial intelligence to recommend insulin dosages, exercise and make dietary recommendations to prevent blood sugar that’s too high or too low. The system will also provide behavioural change through education.
ARISES will be the first system to combine commonly used wearable sensors, smartphone technology, intelligent decision support and patient feedback to deliver a user-centred design which runs locally on a smartphone. Whilst it will be demonstrated in diabetes, it will also be applicable to other chronic diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive airways disease, hypertension, heart failure, ischaemic heart disease, arrhythmias and chronic neurological conditions.
Dr Pantelis Georgiou, who is leading the project, said: “Diabetes currently affects over 400 million people globally. This technology will capture vital information related to chronic disease and use artificial intelligence to improve the lives of individuals suffering from conditions such as diabetes.”
“The grant funding awarded to us by EPSRC will allow us to begin developing this system with patients’ needs in mind. We will use the funds to develop the technology, conduct clinical trials for data collection and evaluation and run focus groups during development to produce a user-centred design.”
Dr Georgiou’s team were awarded a £1.3 million grant to develop this technology, plus a total partners’ contribution of £79,000 from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Dexcom Inc, and ICON Clinical Research (UK) Ltd.
A novel wearable technology for early detection of exacerbations in COPD
This wearable technology will act as an early warning system to predict episodes of worsening Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), so that prompt treatment can be administered and more serious complications and even deaths can be avoided.
COPD is currently the fourth leading cause of death in the world, and affects about 3 million people in the UK. This novel, small, lightweight and low cost wearable wireless technology will be worn around the neck to continuously monitor and assess patients’ physiology for early signs of a COPD episode. The idea is to catch an episode early to prevent irreversible lung damage as much as possible.
Professor Esther Rodriguez-Villegas, who is leading the project, said: “This small device will alert patients and clinicians to a potential problem before they might have even noticed it themselves. This will give them more time to find treatment, resulting in fewer serious complications. We also predict that the devices will reduce the cost of hospitalisations and visits to GPs, therefore resulting in savings to the NHS.”
“I lead the Wearable Technologies lab, where we have over a decade of experience of research on wearable medical devices. We will use the grant to help us carry out new research to try to improve the management and progression of COPD, which has huge personal and social consequences, and costs the UK economy billions of pounds every year.”
Professor Rodriguez-Villegas’ team were awarded a £0.97 million grant to develop this technology, plus a partner contribution £15,000 from Biocompatibles UK Ltd.
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