Trinity College research to revolutionise digital healthcare for older people

Pictured: Dean of Faculty of Health Sciences Mary McCarron; Dr John Dinsmore; Minister of State for Mental Health & Older People Helen McEntee; and Trinity College provost Dr Patrick Prendergast



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13 June 2016 | 0

A digital health technology project led by Trinity College Dublin to enable older people with multiple chronic diseases to self-manage their care has been awarded €4.87 million under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme.

Led by Trinity’s Centre for Practice and Healthcare Innovation (TCPHI), ProACT brings together an EU consortium of research institutions, SMEs, health service providers, EU networks, IBM and Philips.

When complete, ProACT will be the first cloud-based, digital solution of its kind in Ireland and Europe to specifically support home-based integrated care and management for adults over 65 with multiple chronic health conditions.

The technologies will be focused on facilitating behavioural and lifestyle changes for older people living at home and will link with their care support network. It aims to enable older individuals to live independently in their community for as long as possible.

The first phase of the research programme will target integrated care for diabetes, chronic heart disease, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and age-related cognitive decline. It has the potential to be further developed to address all chronic disease conditions across all age groups.

The ProACT system will link a range of new and existing care applications, sensors and healthcare technology devices. Customised interfaces will allow patients and their carers, GPs, pharmacists and hospital-based clinicians to access the system via their tablet, smartphone or computer, to input and access relevant information from one centralised location for the support of home-based, healthcare.

Some 50 million patients in Europe suffer from two or more chronic conditions and more than 70% of healthcare costs are spent on the management of chronic diseases with an overall expenditure in the EU – about €700 billion annually. In Ireland there are approximately 16,000 people aged 65 and over with multimorbidity.

“Care for patients with two or more chronic diseases is frequently repetitive and inefficient, involving multiple appointments that are often inconvenient and burdensome,” said Dr John Dinsmore, lead academic and coordinator of the ProACT project. “Patients sometimes receive confusing and conflicting advice that could also be potentially unsafe, for example due to medication interactions. This poorly integrated and coordinated care has a range of negative consequences for the health and quality of life of patients and their carers, but also at a broader societal level in terms of healthcare resources.

“With ProACT we will aim to improve patient engagement by empowering the patient to proactively manage their conditions and to promote a sense of ownership over their health and their care. The system will also seek to improve training and support, particularly for informal caregivers within the home, in order to help reinforce positive health management and lifestyle changes for patients aged over 65.”

The ProACT research programme will take place across two primary trial sites in Ireland and Belgium, with a system transferability trial planned in Italy in 2018. It will take over three years to complete and from 2019 future development work could see the system rolled out across a range of disease conditions and age groups.

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