Digital health research thrives in Bradford
2 November 2016, 09:00
For over a decade, University of Bradford researchers have been driving digital projects with researchers and businesses to solve some of the world’s health problems and enrich teaching for its students. Advanced Healthcare research spans the whole organisation and is one of the University’s strongest themes.
This wealth of digital health expertise is the reason the University of Bradford is the lead partner in the Digital Health Enterprise Zone (DHEZ), whose vision is to improve the quality of life for people, carers and families by enabling quick and easy access to the right care and information.
To prevent diabetes and other long-term conditions researchers are designing educational tools that encourage better health. For example, the Digital Media Academy is working with GPs and health professionals to produce factual videos for patients. Combining knowledge across health and computing, researchers are able to develop Internet of Things technology, such as a wireless sensor in a plant that can detect less watering which could be a sign of deterioration for dementia patients.
Life scientists have been working closely with the health sector and industry to raise awareness and explore service improvements using digital pathology and less invasive digital autopsies, carry out regular retinal scans for NHS patients, and invent eye tracking software for wheelchair users to be able to move their wheelchair without their limbs.
Psychologists are working on many relevant health related issue, including eating behaviours, obesity, mental health, body image, and memory and language processing. Their expertise is extremely valuable in identifying appropriate telehealth solutions for mental health challenges.
Computing researchers are interpreting health data sets to identify patterns of behaviour in conditions which can result in a better understanding and lead to more appropriate treatment. Health academics are using tools to measure the quality and consequences of digital health interventions and management experts can support health environments, such as hospitals and homes, to develop strategies for change when implementing new digital health systems and processes.
Through DHEZ, University of Bradford researchers are now building on their existing expertise to develop more solutions that work for the health and care sector, can be trialled in the right environment, and are suitable for scaling up by businesses. This access to a raft of digital health expertise, and the potential to get funding to support it from higher education research funding pots, like Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, is a great benefit to the entire DHEZ community of entrepreneurs, businesses, health professionals, academics and learners.
To further build on this valuable expertise, in summer 2017 the University of Bradford’s DHEZ Academic component of the project will be opened on the University’s City campus. The building will be a physical space for academics to develop and test digital health innovations alongside students, health professionals, and businesses. It will house optometry and physiotherapy services, a digital diagnostics lab, a health promotion and informatics unit, a trials and evaluation unit, a community pharmacy consultation unit, business incubation space, and a full size technology enabled house to simulate the use of digital health products in the home.
We are just touching the surface of what’s possible with digital health, but by continuing to grow the DHEZ community and get everyone working together, anything is possible!