Dr Karla Muñoz Esquivel and Dr Nick Timmons, Atlantic Technological University

WiSAR Lab leads health monitoring study for rural communities

ATU Donegal to lead €1.4m study on bridging access to medical services
Dr Karla Muñoz Esquivel and Dr Nick Timmons, Atlantic Technological University

26 June 2024

Researchers from the WiSAR Lab at Atlantic Technological University (ATU) Donegal are leading a €1.4 million for a project aiming to bridge the gap in access to healthcare for people living in remote areas.

Tech2Heal brings together five European partners in a multidisciplinary team of technicians, clinicians, and academia. The team from WiSAR Lab will work with the University of Oulu in Finland, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, the Norwegian Centre for E-health Research and Centre for Rural Medicine Region Västerbotten, Sweden.

Access to healthcare services is critical for inclusive labour force participation; however, rural patients face significant barriers to timely medical care leading to increased workplace absenteeism and early retirement.

The main objective of the Tech2Heal project is to help employees and self-employees in peripheral areas live healthier for longer by proposing suitable changes to work and health policies. Project stakeholders include reindeer herders, fishermen, farmers, and healthcare workers who face several working and environmental challenges.

To achieve this, the project team will use an approach that combines both qualitative and quantitative research methods with cutting-edge technology to monitor work-life balance. Following this, a series of technology pilots will be implemented to validate solutions.

Principal investigator of the WiSAR Lab, Dr Karla Muñoz Esquivel said: “Rural communities frequently face many difficulties in accessing the healthcare they require, such as lengthy travel times to facilities and physicians. Such obstacles can lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment, ultimately forcing many people out of the workforce prematurely. Through Tech2Heal we can help equip remote populations with the digital tools to improve their health and well-being to live and work for longer, helping to build their sense of security and independence.”

WiSAR director Dr Nick Timmons said: “Significant research gaps remain in our understanding of what healthcare is available in different areas, how patients are affected, and how services could better serve the health needs of rural and island areas. Projects like Tech2Heal have the potential to make a significant impact in addressing these healthcare inequalities and can play a vital part in our ongoing work in this field.”

The Tech2Heal project will commence later this year and run for 36 months.

The funding was secured through the framework of the 4th Call of the Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme (NPA) 2021-2027.

TechCentral Reporters

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