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Ulster Helps Experts Connect With Health

Experts in the rapidly developing field of Connected Health are getting close-up look at the University of Ulster’s advances during a major international conference in Belfast.

Some 300 leading figures in healthcare, medical devices, engineering technology, academia and industry are attending the European Connected Health Week 2010.

Connected Health blends technology and medical care in procedures that provide  “remote” delivery of healthcare. It offers flexible opportunities for individuals to engage with clinicians and better self-manage their care.

For example, people are now being empowered to operate self-monitoring devices in their own homes rather than in a GP surgery or hospital, while others have chronic conditions or lifestyle conditions that can be treated via ‘telehealth’ programs.

Today at the conference, being held in the Europa Hotel, a group of Connected Health experts from the University of Ulster held a workshop to demonstrate and review their experiences of how the academic, business and clinical partnership has led to innovation, spin outs and a model for success.

The University, which is one of the sponsors of the conference, has many years experience developing commercialised medical sensor devices from design to clinical trialling.

With a growing world population living longer, healthcare provision costs are projected to rise steeply over the next 50 years with consequent pressure also on physical facilities. Connected Health is a means of giving people greater independence in self-management of medical conditions while also reducing the cost burden.

Professor Jim McLaughlin, a University of Ulster physicist and one of the organisers of ECH week, says the conference’s wide variety of talks, exhibitions, practical demonstrations and networking opportunities will make it a launch-pad for the next phase of worldwide development in the sector.

“This event is a great opportunity the International Connected Health community to network and debate the way forward on a wide range of topics,” he said. “This is a time for Connected Health to take a big step forward and now address key routes to clinical adoption and market penetration.

“At the University of Ulster we are pioneering the way forward in areas such as mobile patient monitoring and ambient assisted living. We will be demonstrating our experiences at workshops throughout this very busy week.”

Professor McLaughlin is Director of the Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials Institute and NIBEC at the Jordanstown campus. He is a Board member of the ECH Campus, which is organising the conference.

He added: “On Tuesday and Wednesday there will be a Connected Health Exhibition where vendors will be prepared to provide hands on experience with the technologies of today, as well as some new ones that will soon be available. Visitors will be able to explore and learn more about the equipment currently in use and being pioneered  

“It’s open to anyone interested or involved with health, for example in TeleHealth, Telecare, eHealth, mHealth,. eCare, Remote Patient Monitoring, Patient Records, Medical Device Production, ICT, Health Procurement, Nursing Care, HomeCare Services or Software Development for the healthcare arena.”

A keynote speaker at the conference on Tuesday is Massachusetts Senate President, Therese Murray who will speak about “Connected Health Collaboration”. On Monday she received a briefing on the pioneering work of the Intelligent Systems Research Centre when she visited Ulster’s Magee campus and later toured the C-TRIC translational medicine research and development facility, in which Ulster is a partner, in the grounds of Altnagelvin Hospital.