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Published: 22 January 2016

University in health partnership to transform services for dementia patients

The University is part of a consortium using the ‘Internet of Things’ technology to drive a fundamental change in the delivery of care for older people in the UK.

Surrey and Borders is one of two NHS Trusts leading the ‘Internet of Things’ Test Bed project, which trials different combinations of technology and devices. The ‘Internet of Things’ Test Bed will demonstrate how the use of network-enabled devices, such as monitors, robotics and wearables, will be able to provide better healthcare for older people, particularly those with dementia, in the comfort of their own homes.

With the use of remote-connectivity, carers will also be able to monitor the behaviour of the person they are caring for without needing to be at their specific location.

Surrey and Borders NHS Trust will be working with Surrey, Royal Holloway University of London, the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Academic Health Science Network, the Alzheimer’s Society, local clinical commissioning groups and a number of charities. 

The project will also be made up of 10 technology companies, including:

  • Sense.ly, whose virtual, personal assistant Molly is capable of providing tailormade medical advice using advanced AI and speech recognition.
  • Intelesant, whose product Howz is able to learn a dementia sufferer’s routine and thus detect any deviations from the routine that may lead to dangers.
  • Healtrix, which will provide an ‘Internet of Things’ Integration Hub, as well as an alerting engine that raises real time alerts and a dashboard that allows for remote monitoring and analysis of data.

All information provided by these companies will be processed at Surrey and transformed in to a ‘common language’ detailing a range of results taken from the people using the service. The insights and alerts provided by the devices will then allow healthcare staff to deliver more responsive and effective services.

Professor Roma Maguire, Professor of e-Health at the University, said: “I am delighted to be involved in a project that has a significant potential to improve the outcomes of people with dementia and their families through the use of innovative technologies. The University of Surrey is leading the academic evaluation of the project, producing vital evidence on the benefit of the ‘Internet of Things’ testbed.”

Dr Payam Barnaghi, leading the project at Surrey, said: “The ‘Internet of Things’ testbed will provide continuous monitoring and observation data in a secure environment and will provide mechanisms to extract information. This, in turn, will support better and faster decision-making for caregivers, clinical teams and support groups.”

Fiona Edwards, Chief Executive of Surrey and Borders, said: “I’m really excited that we have been given this opportunity to improve the quality of life for people with dementia and their families. With a growing elderly population which is likely to experience long-term physical and mental health conditions, innovative new technologies such as those we are trialling through the Internet of Things project will help more people to receive the support they need to live well in their own homes.  

“It is also about improving responsiveness of the health and care system, providing support at an earlier stage and reducing the amount of time people spend in hospital.”

In Surrey, 6,606 people have a formal diagnosis of dementia although it is estimated that around 16,800 people have some form of the condition. In 2013, 18% of the county’s population was over the age of 65 and it is due to rise to 25% by 2037.

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