UofG lends support to £2.5m community healthcare project

Published: 6 October 2023

Researchers from the James Watt School of Engineering are part of a major new project to address the challenges of health inequality across Tayside using medical technologies developed by Scotland-based partners.

Researchers from the James Watt School of Engineering are part of a major new project to address the challenges of health inequality across Tayside using medical technologies developed by Scotland-based partners.
The Accelerating Impact of Community healthCarE in Tayside (AICCET) project, led jointly by the University of Dundee and Heriot-Watt University in collaboration with NHS Tayside, has received £2.5m in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s Place-based Impact Acceleration Account.
Academics from the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde will also lead a second project funded by the Place-based Impact Acceleration Account to support the aim of tripling of the photonics sector across Scotland’s central belt.
The AICCET team will examine how advancements in technology could move treatments away from large hospitals and into more accessible community settings such as GP surgeries or even a patient’s home.
Experts from the Universities of Dundee and Heriot-Watt will collaborate with colleagues at the Universities of Glasgow and St Andrews and Edinburgh Napier University on the project, joined by their counterparts at NHS Tayside Innovation and Dundee City Council.
Together, they will work to identify the feasibility and challenges to such a transition, all whilst maintaining or improving levels of patient care.
Professor Michael MacDonald, from Dundee’s School of Medicine, said, “One of the major challenges that face health boards is ensuring that it can meet the needs of the public, regardless of an individual’s circumstances.
“Currently, much of that care will be delivered at a single site, such as Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, which may be hard to access for some patients due to where they live or personal transportation or mobility challenges.
“Technology allows us to reconsider how, and where, services are delivered. The Tayside region provides a perfect microcosm of the issues that have faced healthcare providers and our work with Heriot-Watt University and partners will look to address these.
“Ultimately, we hope to identify ways in which we can improve the patient journey and reduce the requirement for clinical staff to deliver some treatments, freeing up their time to focus on other pressing patient needs.”
Heriot-Watt’s Professor Marc Desmulliez said: “We want to empower patients, when it is reasonable and possible, to be more involved in their own healthcare solutions using technology that is tested and meets the needs of the NHS.
“For example, during their rehabilitation after an invasive surgery, patients may have to carry out some exercises to aid in their recovery. A healthcare solution could be a system that records and monitors the exercise. The essential information is then sent to the surgeon who is in charge to make sure the patient is progressing as planned. This could mean that if the patient is on track, they might not need to go to hospital for a check-up because the doctor has already seen the progress being made.
“Our hope will be to identify how we can ultimately accelerate the impact of community healthcare throughout Tayside to the benefit of all patients regardless of their personal circumstances.”
Professor Sandy Cochran of the James Watt School of Engineering will lead the University of Glasgow’s contribution to AICCET. Prof Cochran said: “I’m pleased to be joining partners from the public and private sectors on AICCET, which is setting out to deliver improved community care for patients by finding new ways to harness the potential of technology.
“The project brings together experts from a wide range of backgrounds who have the shared expertise to deliver real impact for patients in Tayside across the span of the project and into the future.”
AICCET will consult and engage with suitable patients and other stakeholders that may benefit from treatments being delivered in a local setting, co-creating healthcare solutions which are patient centred. The views of the public will play a vital role in the research, with a ‘citizen assembly’ established, allowing the team to learn more about individual patient needs.
Another crucial aspect of the project will be cooperation with industry partners, which will be needed to ensure that mass manufacturing of technology can be provided should successful outcomes be identified.
The study will take place in the Tayside region due to its mixture of urban and rural communities, economically diverse population, and the long-established relationship between the University of Dundee and NHS Tayside.
The project is being supported by experts from InnoScot Health, Scottish Enterprise and SHARE (an NHS Research Scotland initiative).

First published: 6 October 2023

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