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Accelerating healthcare innovation during COVID-19+BEYOND

Maridulu Budyari Gumal SPHERE’s HealthHatchery and Frontiers Technology Clinical Academic Group have come together to accelerate healthcare innovation with the COVID-19 + BEYOND project.

The COVID-19 + BEYOND project has identified emergent unmet clinical needs from the SPHERE healthcare workforce in response to COVID-19. This information has been used to inform the initiatives of COVID-19 + BEYOND, including a competitive grant scheme, the Rapid Response Scheme.

The Rapid Response Scheme funding aims to accelerate the translation of innovations into practice. The first round of COVID-19 + BEYOND grant funding has been awarded to projects developing innovations which focus on the remote monitoring of health status to support telehealth services. Innovations are required to be at an advanced stage of development, such as having working prototypes or demonstrating proof of concept.

The following innovation led projects have been awarded funding through the COVID-19 + BEYOND Rapid Response Scheme:

Virtual Cardiac Rehabilitation: Development and initial user testing (Dr Kim Delbaere, Neuroscience Research Australia)

This project addresses the safe and efficient continuity of care and access cardiac rehabilitation for patients following an acute cardiac event.

The innovative evidence-based intervention will deliver a virtual rehabilitation program to cardiac patients, who represent a population vulnerable to COVID-19 related morbidity and mortality and thus currently unable to attend in-person cardiac rehabilitation, despite its established benefits, including reduced cardiovascular mortality. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, referral of and participation among eligible patients were poor, estimated at approximately 30%. Our project will bring long-term clinical benefits of enhancing service capacity and resilience, reducing rehabilitation costs, as well as providing genuine consumer choice and potentially overcoming some of the barriers for patients in engaging with existing outpatient rehabilitation programs.

Using the Watch Me Grow web app to screen for parental mental health problems (Professor Valsamma Eapen, UNSW)

There is emerging evidence of high rates of psychological distress in adults due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Substantial research indicates parental mental health difficulties adversely impact on children’s development and well-being.

The Watch Me Grow – Electronic (WMG-E) Platform is an innovative technology that enables digital monitoring of childhood development with parent completed screening measures and an in-built algorithm to identify ‘at risk’ children.

This project will extend the application of the WMG-E technology to include a digital screening measure for parent mental health difficulties and will evaluate the uptake, acceptability and initial effectiveness of additional screening measures for parents.  Through routine screening for parental mental health problems in the early childhood years via WMG-E, there is an opportunity to engage with vulnerable parents during routine child health screening, normalise and de-stigmatise mental health screening, and facilitate referral to community services. This will improve parental mental health, which may in turn improve child outcomes in the longer term.

SAIIV - Wearable remote monitoring to optimise COVID-19 patient therapy from infection to recovery (Associate Professor Benjamin Kwan, SESLHD)

This project will develop and evaluate a remote monitoring system that can be applied throughout a patient’s COVID-19 journey from diagnosis to recovery and during long term follow up. The centrepiece of the innovative technology is a comfortable wearable vital signs monitor that is complemented by a smartphone application, a cloud database and clinical dashboard. Vital signs information, like heart and respiratory rate,  is important for evaluating the short and long-term impacts of COVID-19 and will allow early identification and intervention of patients at risk of developing severe adverse consequences. This system can be adapted in the post-COVID era for monitoring of patients with chronic lung disease in the community.

New liquid biopsies could provide hope for brain cancer patients

Increasing the efficacy of brain cancer treatment traditionally requires access to tissue samples that can shed light on a tumour’s genetic makeup. But, with many malignancies buried deep inside essential areas of the brain, this tissue is often impossible to reach.

A new research project led by Associate Professor Therese Becker of the Ingham Institute is aiming to solve this problem. Using ‘liquid biopsies’ – that is, blood tests – the researchers hope to reveal critical information about individual patient tumours. 

Implementation Science Webinar

Maridulu Budyari Gumal SPHERE Implementation Science Platform hosted an Implementation Science Webinar on 18th November 2020.

New directions towards a better future for patients with pancreatic cancer

A partnership between the Pancreatic Cancer Research Hub (PCRH) and the Molecular Screening and Therapeutics (MoST) trial in Sydney could help improve the poor survival rates of pancreatic cancer.