30th October 2014
Graphnet Health is part of a team which has been awarded £722,000 funding by Innovate UK to help improve the treatment and quality of life of people with epilepsy.
Other members of the consortium are Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the University of Kent and fellow software house Shearwater Systems. The solution, a combination of a patient portal, integrated digital records, social networking and data analysis tools, will be operated by the Dorset Epilepsy Service which is run out of Poole Hospital.
The Epilepsy Networks Project will use automated sensing and geo-location technologies, in smartphones and wearable technology, to record and track patient-related information. Family and close friends, who are often closely involved in supporting patients with epilepsy because of the unpredictability of and risks associated with seizures, will also be used to enrich the life-logging dataset.
Information gathered will include textual, visual and audio data. This will be combined with the temporal, spatial and contextual information relevant to the epileptic seizures of a patient.
It is one of the first attempts to apply social activity tracking in the domain of patient generated health records.
The data collected will be embedded in the patient’s NHS digital record so it can be shared throughout the care community and studied using automated analysis and data visualisation tools developed by the project. The aim is that novel clinical pathways, including real-time pre-emptive interventions, will reduce the costs of care and improve the treatment of a life-altering condition.
All four parties bring their individual, highly-specialised expertise to the project.
The University of Kent will provide the tracking elements of the project. The research team led by Dr Christos Efstratiou and Dr Jim Ang has a particular focus on mobile computing, the smartphone-based sensing of human activities, and social activity tracking using wearable sensing technologies.
Graphnet will build the epilepsy datasets and analysis tools into its CareCentric shared care record. This data will be added to the extensive range of clinical information already collected and managed by the
CareCentric digital record system. Graphnet will also contribute its considerable experience of patient consent, information governance, interoperability and security to the project.
Shearwater Systems will use its Rapport mobile application development environment to provide the patient portal and integrate it with Graphnet’s data-sharing platform. Shearwater already provides web-based clinical tools and mobile applications for Graphnet’s CareCentric shared care record.
The technology and associated care pathways will be implemented at Poole Hospital, which runs the county-wide Dorset Epilepsy Service under clinical lead Dr Rupert Page, who is also the chief clinical information officer. Dr Page will head a team of health practitioners and patients who will contribute to the specification and evaluation of the project software. Poole Hospital already uses the CareCentric shared care record.
As well as financial savings from reductions in hospital activity, expected patient benefits will include improved quality of life, improved management of their condition and well-being, and a reduction in adverse incidents and accidents. For many people with epilepsy, the key to optimal treatment is the provision of expert guidance on how to adjust medication promptly after a seizure has occurred to reduce the likelihood of further episodes, rather than waiting for an appointment. The project aims to empower patients by providing them with a simple, yet secure way to manage their condition with timely expert guidance and support.
Dr Ian Denley, chief executive of Shearwater Systems, explained that a major challenge in the delivery of high quality care to people with epilepsy was the accurate collection, sharing and analysis of information about their condition, throughout their daily life.
“This information is key to providing patients with epilepsy with the most effective treatment and the minimisation of interventions. Good datasets can empower patients by helping them understand seizure triggers, for example, and empower clinicians by helping them in the process of monitoring and adjusting drug prescriptions.”
Once the technology is complete, the intention is to move it across to other long term conditions, where similar benefits are anticipated.
 Innovate UK (previously the Technology Strategy Board) is funding the project under its Digital Health in a Connected Hospital programme.