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Header image for the current page How living labs are accelerating the use of medical technology

How living labs are accelerating the use of medical technology

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A new ‘Living Lab’ facility in Buckinghamshire is helping health economies explore how medical technology (MedTech) can transform care pathways and improve outcomes for patients. John Vesey, Business Manager for Health at the Satellite Applications Catapult tells us more.

The Living Lab concept was born out of an ongoing partnership between the Satellite Applications Catapult and NHS Arden & GEM CSU. It delivers a facility where health systems can safely create, test and trial technologies, enabling the often difficult transition from proof of concept and pilot to large-scale rollout.

Since its launch in May 2020, the Living Lab has focused on support for healthcare economies that are trying to work proactively with connectivity technologies, such as 5G and satellite networks, to solve specific challenges around shifting care from the clinic into the community - critical in a post-COVID environment. But there’s scope for a broader exploration of ‘the art of the possible’.

This requires an approach that starts from a careful consideration of the problem and opportunities, before exploring the potential MedTech solutions that should be trialled in order to drive digital transformation forward.

The Innovation Centre at Westcott, in Buckinghamshire, is fundamental to the Living Lab. What started as a physical space to host demonstrator ambulances - showcasing a range of futureproof connectivity solutions - rapidly developed into a flexible workshop and co-creation space, providing simulation facilities to showcase hardware and software options across a broad range of care settings including GP surgeries, care homes and hospitals.

The rural location of the Innovation Centre offers plenty of space for conducting trials and has the benefit of 5G connectivity on site. This has already enabled extensive testing of the capabilities of both emerging and complementary technologies. For example, connecting to a 5G modem when travelling at speed and how we can use drones to support healthcare delivery.

Part of the early evolution of the Living Lab has been driven by adapting to restrictions forced by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to being physical space, the Living Lab now also delivers a range of virtual engagement opportunities for healthcare organisations and systems unable to visit.

The innovation methodology that we have created can be applied physically and remotely, with any care pathway or health economy, to explore how performance and outcomes could be improved by MedTech; specifically, technology enabled by connectivity.

As we embark on 2021, we already have a range of exciting initiatives planned that will push the boundaries of the Living Lab even further. We are building upon the expertise of the Catapult and NHS perspective provided by Arden & GEM by engaging with a range of technology partners to deliver insight into how the next generation of MedTech can meet the challenges of emerging Integrated Care Systems. For example, Amazon Web Solutions (AWS) are co-hosting an event with us in March to explore how cloud and edge computing technologies can introduce sustainable change.

Getting involved with the Living Lab is simple, just email health@sa.catapult.org.uk and we will contact you to understand your challenges and explore how we can support you.

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Author: John Vesey |

John has worked in numerous roles supporting the public sector to harness the benefits of satellite technology. In his current role as Business Manager for Health and Wellbeing at the Satellite Applications Catapult, John focuses on developing sustainable services for the health and social care sector that are underpinned by digital transformation and shifting where care is delivered.