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£2m funding award to QMUL will boost monitoring of chronic medical conditions

Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) is one of eight institutions to receive funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to investigate how wearable devices like sensors and smart-watches can be used to improve our understanding and management of long-term medical conditions.

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Led by Professor of Risk and Information Management, Norman Fenton, from QMUL’s School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, the QMUL project will focus on home-based and wearable real-time monitoring systems for chronic conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes in pregnancy and atrial fibrillation.

The funding is part of a £10 million investment by the EPSRC in projects that will help people self-manage chronic conditions with support from carers and clinicians.

Professor Fenton said: “Patients with chronic diseases must take day-to-day decisions about their care and rely on advice from medical staff to do this. However, regular appointments with doctors or nurses can be expensive, inconvenient or not necessarily scheduled when needed.

“Increasingly, we are seeing the use of low cost and highly portable sensors that can measure a wide range of physiological values. Such 'wearable' sensors could improve the way chronic conditions are managed.

“Our project has the potential to improve the well-being of millions of people.”

The project includes academics from the fields of antennas, intelligent systems and Bayesian Networks, a branch of mathematics that is used in decision-making, and healthcare experts from QMUL’s School of Medicine and Dentistry.

The QMUL project called PAMBAYESIAN (PAtient Managed decision-support using Bayesian networks) is a three year project that starts in June 2017.

It will help to lighten the load on healthcare providers like the NHS while giving patients more control over managing their condition.   

Professor Philip Nelson, Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), said: “The UK has an aging population and the demands on our health services are growing. Monitoring chronic conditions through outpatients’ clinics is both costly and time consuming for patients, surgeries and hospitals. Using these new technologies provides ways of gauging a patient’s health in real-time and detecting any deterioration quickly. This will help people remain in their homes for longer, avoid congestion and delay and mean treatment can be targeted quickly and when it can be most appropriate and effective.”

PAMBAYESIAN complements another grant from the Leverhulme Trust of £385,510 awarded to Professor Fenton that will ultimately lead to improved design and use of self-monitoring systems such as blood sugar monitors, home energy smart meters, and self-improvement mobile phone apps.

The project CAUSAL-DYNAMICS (Improved Understanding of Causal Models in Dynamic Decision-making) is a collaborative project, and combines cognitive decision expertise from experimental psychologists including Dr Magda Osman from QMUL’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.

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