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Speeding recovery through new technology

Date published: 23/02/17

Speeding recovery through new technology

A new partnership between Translate and the Digital Health Enterprise Zone (DHEZ), at the University of Bradford, is investigating innovative ways to support the recovery of people with mental health issues.

The collaboration is aiming to kick-start the development of new technologies that will allow mental-health service users to remotely access and participate in ‘Recovery Colleges’ – educational courses designed to help people better understand and manage their mental health.

Recovery Colleges are run the world over, but the University of Bradford is the only higher education institution in the UK to provide the service. ‘Bradford University Recovery College’ is a summer school, offering courses such as managing stress and anxiety, managing low mood and depression, getting more involved in community activities and returning to work. Most of the courses run over several weeks but one of the issues faced by the University – common to many Recovery Colleges – is that people often struggle to attend regularly.

“One of the benefits people gain from the Recovery College is the contact with people, so simply using existing technology that allows people to watch a seminar remotely will not be enough in this context,” explained DHEZ Academic Director, Professor Allan Kellehear. “What we need is a purpose-built telehealth or tele-education package that will enable people in both the remote and the host locations to work together and actively participate in sessions.”

To achieve this aim, Translate is working with the two arms of the DHEZ – DHEZ Ltd and DHEZ Academic – to run a workshop for information and technology companies, clinicians and academics to develop potential ideas of how such a technology might work.

The workshop, on March 16, 2017, will simulate a Recovery College session, enabling participants to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced in developing participatory technology in this context and with this user group.

Translate Technology Innovation Manager, Sean Clarkson, said: “We hope that by bringing a wide range of expertise together, from industry, academia and the health service, and by showing people at first-hand the challenge we want them to address, we’ll see some really innovative ideas generated which can be taken forward. And while any innovation will obviously benefit the University’s own Recovery College, the potential application is worldwide.”

Translate is also working with DHEZ Academic on a second workshop, aiming at linking academics who have potential ideas around digital diagnostics with commercial or clinical partners. The desired outcome from both workshops is to create collaborative research groups which can then apply for further funding to progress the technologies. This is where the partnership with Translate is really adding value, according to Professor Kellehear.

“These types of projects, that are a meeting place between technology and health, require specialist expertise in order to identify relevant funding sources and put together a strong bid and that’s what Translate has brought to the table,” he said. “Translate is also linked to a wide regional network, and that’s been invaluable in helping to bring in a good range of expertise and skills to our events.”

ICT and E-Health