Tackling dementia together

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By Professor Stephen Moore

Anglia Ruskin University and a consortium of 10 SMEs, academic institutions, heath partnerships and charitable organisations from across Europe have won a €4.2 million research grant to help people with mild dementia to better manage their condition, as well as better support carers.

As Europe’s population lives longer, a growing number of its people face some form of dementia. This has increased the need for integrated care and support for patients of mild dementia, helping to extend independent living for patients and increase their quality of life. Carers who can draw on little support must also be considered. The impact on those who look after dementia sufferers is both emotional and physical.

To add to this, there is the burgeoning expense to the healthcare system. It is estimated that it will cost in the region of €160 billion annually across Europe to manage dementia care.

“The greatest cost is when people don’t take their medicine and don’t turn up for doctors’ appointments”

says Stephen Moore, Professor of Healthcare Policy at Anglia Ruskin.

“The increased use of medicine alone would save a huge amount of money and free up essential resources.”

The answer, the consortium believes, lies in adapting existing smart technology, called MIAMI (Medical Intelligence for Assistive Management Interface).

MIAMI is a patient intelligence and support ecosystem that works on tablets, smart phones and web browsers and alongside SMS text messaging. As a single portal, it can store healthcare data and offers a real-time system that captures and correlates the patient’s mental and physical well-being at various times and dates. MIAMI’s interface has been designed to be easy to use, combining a simple lay-out with clear instructions for use. Building on this system, MIAMI MD (Mild Dementia) encompasses a holistic approach to dementia healthcare – integrating primary, secondary, community and pharmacy care.

MIAMI MD communicates with Electronic Health Records (EHRs), and can share patient-specific data between healthcare professionals, such as GPs, psychiatrists, social care professionals and informal carers, upon patient consent. This can allow the development of a targeted and integrated treatment plan where multiple care providers can work closely and proactively to provide medication and care that are tailored to the individual patient’s needs.

“It is vital that, in an ageing population, we use technology to ease the pull on resources and the strain on healthcare providers,”

says Professor James Hampton-Till, Deputy Dean of Anglia Ruskin University’s Faculty of Medical Science.

“As well as giving patients more control over their care, MIAMI MD, will slow the patient’s cognitive and functional decline, ease pressure on carers and reduce costs for healthcare providers, such as the NHS.”

It is estimated that the research could save healthcare providers upwards of £1,500 per patient, per year. The research is running for four years and already the future is looking bright. Jean Geroges, Executive Director of Alzheimer Europe, a key partner in the project adds:

“I am very excited about being involved in the project as it will help us understand more about the usefulness of IT for people with dementia and the chance to cooperate with other European countries is a real benefit.”

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