Collaborations for Care: event summary


The first in our series of five online dissemination events, Collaborations for Care: The Internet of Things for Health and Wellbeing, took place on 28th April 2021.

The event featured some of the work that has been supported by the Pitch-In programme in the thematic area of Health and Wellbeing. The presenters shared insights gained about how to demonstrate the value that IoT can offer to our health and social care systems and practices.

The health and wellbeing theme has sponsored 12 mini-projects and one regional engagement project, with collaborations involving the universities of Sheffield, Cambridge, Newcastle and Oxford and a range of health-sector partners.

The projects have addressed a variety of health conditions and care concepts, including sleep disorder analysis, hospital patient-flow analysis, social prescribing, smart care homes, point-of-care biomarker analysis, vital-sign monitoring and childhood obesity.

Moreover, the work has been carried out in various contexts: hospitals, clinics, homes, schools, low-resource countries, and outdoor and social spaces. This variety not only reflects the vast potential of IoT in this sector, but also hints at the complexity of developing and applying it in a consistent and methodical way.

The Pitch-In programme has sought to encourage and facilitate Knowledge Exchange (KE) around IoT innovation and adoption. The universities’ KE activities allow them to engage with the wider world to make a contribution to the economy and society, and, in return, receive inspiration and practical guidance to channel their research efforts.

The key KE lessons coming out of the health and wellbeing projects include:

  • In this field any development or innovation requires significant and wide-ranging collaboration. Identification of and engagement with stakeholders, including patients and public, is crucial, and it is often desirable to incorporate stakeholders at all stages of development to form truly multidisciplinary project teams.

  • In healthcare, KE is very much a two-way process. It is vital to understand the abilities, desires and needs of prospective end users, as well as the structure and content of care systems, including their managerial decision-making and commissioning processes.

  • There is, as yet, a general lack of methodologies and experience reports or case studies, which can make it difficult to communicate best practice. Practice from several traditions, such as healthcare research, software engineering and data science, may be relevant, but must be adopted and integrated in a coherent way.

  • Protocols, standards and template agreements are still emerging. We still need, for example, consistent ethical standards for trials involving IoT, protocols for designing and reporting trials, standard agreements for sharing data, and technical standards for communicating data.

  • Mixed-method R&D approaches are usually necessary, in order to supplement quantitative digital data with qualitative data to allow evaluation of acceptability, user experience, patient outcomes, etc.

More than 50 participants attended, contributing to a rich discussion in the chat window. Many thanks to chair and theme lead, Prof. Luc de Witte, University of Sheffield. Thanks also to the speakers, Dr. Stephen Potter and Dr. Kat Easton, both from the University of Sheffield, and Dr. Anant Jani and Prof. Belinda Lennox, both from the University of Oxford.

If you missed the presentations, you can watch a recording of the event below.

  • 00:00:00 – Chair and theme lead, Professor Luc de Witte, School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield: The opportunities for and challenges to the use of IoT in health and social care

  • 00:18:00 – Dr Stephen Potter, University of Sheffield: Project portfolio overview

  • 00:30:10 – Dr. Anant Jani, University of Oxford: IoT-enabled social prescribing at Blenheim Palace

  • 00:44:42 – Dr. Kat Easton, University of Sheffield: Identifying challenges and barriers to using IoT in mental health

  • 00:55:43 – Professor Belinda Lennox, University of Oxford: Point-of-care testing in serious mental illness

  • 01:09:04 – Dr. Stephen Potter, University of Sheffield: Connected care homes

Collaborations for Care is part of the Pitch-In event series, marking the end of the three-year collaboration between the Universities of Sheffield, Cambridge, Oxford and Newcastle. Pitch-In is funded by Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund (CCF).