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New ICT health research centre has aged care high on its agenda


Aged care and ageing will be a major focus of the recently launched multi-disciplinary digital health research centre at Flinders University, its directors tell Australian Ageing Agenda.

The Flinders Digital Health Research Centre at the university’s Tonsley research and innovation hub brings together the Science & Engineering and Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences faculties and will work closely with the collocated Medical Device Research Institute to drive innovation in digital health services and models of care delivery.

The centre is being co-led by Australian digital health experts Professor Anthony Maeder, Chair in Digital Health Systems, and Professor Trish Williams, Cisco Chair and Professor of Digital Health Systems.

Professor Maeder said digital health was one of the most exciting areas in healthcare and had incredible potential to improve health services and drive healthcare reform across Australia, especially for the country’s ageing population.

“Healthy ageing is critical to the South Australian and national agendas,” said Professor Maeder.

“The centre will initially focus efforts on digital health projects that enable smart living, leveraging new ICT technologies to enable new health services and realise new models of care delivery.”

Those new models will look to non-conventional setting include online, in the home or office, mobile roaming in the community and on connected media at locations far from providers.

Trish Williams, Professor

Professor Trish Williams

The centre will pursue research that resulted in practical outcomes with a lot of that looking at both healthy ageing and aged care, said Professor Williams.

“The centre is looking to do a lot of things around assistive technologies and medical device partnering with a particular interest in aged care,” Professor Williams told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Projects will address a range of other health areas including disabilities, preventive health and wellbeing, rural and remote health, population and public health, chronic disease management, integrated care, telehealth and telecare.

All research will involve a multi-disciplinary approach to address the issues, Professor Williams said.

“You can’t approach from a technology point of view solely anymore. It is about bringing together all those capabilities within Flinders and industry to enable that smart living and how to better use the technologies we have to enable better health services and better models of care.”

One aspect will include smart homes and using assistive technology, medical devices and the internet of things to investigate how to make good clinical and safe use of those to improve the health of individuals, she said.

“In terms of aged care and aged care homes it is about finding simple and practical solutions to help them with what they currently do,” Professor Williams said.

“Anything we look at needs that strong collaborative approach with those organisations and finding things that work for them – not finding solutions that we think are good.”

She said the centre would look to partner with aged care service providers for research projects and trials as well as with industry, technology providers and others who could assist with achieving an optimal solution including end users and other health service providers.

The centre is jointly funded by the SA Government and Cisco Systems Australia.

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