Digital Health, Ageing Innovation and Inclusion
Healthcare research must address the complexities of enabling people with Multiple Long-Term Conditions (MLTC) to age well. Digital Health Technologies (DHT) have the potential to meet these challenges by scaling-up access to research, stimulating the development of innovative new therapeutic and clinical services, and breaking down barriers to inclusion.
To realise this potential, research is needed to enable DHTs to address two critical but unmet needs for ageing and MLTC:
– to stimulate therapeutic innovation DHT can provide harmonised approaches to early disease detection, monitoring and prognosis.
– to widen access to research, clinical care, DHT needs to be deployed in the real-world.
Our theme has been designed to address these challenges.
What we cover in this theme
The overarching aim of our research is to support the wellbeing and function of patients, carers and the public through novel insights from our three research programmes. We are passionate about integrating the voice of people affected by age-related diseases and MLTCs into the design, implementation and dissemination of our research through embedded Public Patient Involvement Processes.
Our work centres around three research programmes:
Digital Biomarker Discovery Programme
Building on our track record of success, we will develop, refine and implement DHTs to enhance early detection and monitoring of age-related diseases and MLTC, to support research, therapeutic development and clinical management. We will embed DHT to complement research and clinical practice, apply novel data science methods to optimise biomarker discovery and application, and combine digital biomarkers with cohort data to compliment disease models.
Digital Health Interventions Programme
We are developing and testing innovative DHTs to support remote delivery to widen access to clinical care, particularly for those who may struggle to access clinical services. We focus on home-based digital tools using neuro-modulatory approaches that tackle mobility loss and falls risk in ageing and MLTCs, enhancing clinical delivery pathways and personalised care using a combination of DHTs and real-world monitoring and, targeting preventative approaches using DHTs for behavioural change.
Digital Health Inclusion Programme
We will deliver inclusive, acceptable and scalable methods to implement DHT through an understanding of the challenges and solutions to real-world deployment in research and care. This work involves ensuring DHTs are acceptable and clinically meaningful to older adults with and without MLTCs, particularly those under-served communities, developing novel tools to communicate actionable insights from DHT to patients and professionals, and, developing scalable solutions to integrate DHT in existing systems and infrastructure.
How we carry out research
We carry out our research leveraging our externally funded infrastructures, such as the National Centres for Innovation in Ageing (NICA), National Innovation Centre for Data (NICD) and strong links with the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust NHS (Clinical Ageing Research Unit (CARU) and CRESTA clinic). We benefit from the state-of-the art facilities at the CARU, in particular the Gait Laboratory which allows us to lead and deliver research in clinical, neurophysiological and neurochemical measurements of mobility, as well as the development and validation of digital mobility outcomes using DHT.
We are committed to the principles of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion – within our research teams and with respect to patients and the public. We strive to create an environment that provides the freedom and opportunity for all colleagues and research participants to achieve their full potential, regardless of rank, socioeconomic background, age, disability, sex, religion, belief, race, ethnicity, culture and sexual orientation.
Who we work with
Professor Lynn Rochester and Professor Paul Watson lead this theme. They are supported by Dr Silvia Del Din (Emerging Lead) and Dr Ríona Mc Ardle (PPIE Lead).
This theme links with The Brain and Movement Research Group who deliver much of the research. We collaborate across faculties and with NUCoREs in delivering high profile joint research grants. We have active collaborations across the research themes in the BRC with who we work to deliver our research programmes.
Our work actively embeds the patient and public voice throughout the entire research cycle. We work with a diverse network of communities such as: Voice Global, the Mobilise-D Patient Public Advisory Group and the ActivDem Patient Public Advisory Group.
We have significant links with charities through our research grants and public engagement efforts, including the NIHR, EU-IMI, EPFIA, Parkinson’s UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Dunhill Medical Trust and Michael J Fox Foundation.
Making a difference – our impact
Gait analysis as a supportive marker for diagnosing different types of dementia
Innovation in Digital Health Data Storage and Analysis