EPSRC-NIHR HTC Partnership Award Plus Funds: Technology Network-Plus on Devices for Surgery and Rehabilitation

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Institute for Global Health

Abstract

Improving outcomes, minimising re-admissions, prioritising hospital resources and expanding home or community-based management are major objectives of the NHS. Patient care needs to be considered for the entire recovery process of patients and potential impact on life-long health and wellbeing. The future of surgery is therefore moving towards precision intervention, increasingly driven by focus on quality-of-life after surgery, as well as the need for taking a systems approach towards surgery. The aim of the proposed network is to establish a forum for surgical innovation with seamless integration of engineering research, clinical translation and industrial development by aligning EPSRC healthcare technologies with NIHR Healthcare Technology Co-operatives (HTCs) to accelerate the development and clinical adoption of new surgical and assistive devices that can improve the treatment, functional restoration, rehabilitation and quality-of-life for patients. The network is supported by NIHR HTCs, KTN, and a number of academic, NHS, industrial and healthcare stakeholders.

The research and clinical bases to be covered by the proposed Technology Network include the following three areas: 1) Sensing for improved peri-operative care - which is a determining factor for mitigating against post-operative complications; 2) Smart surgical devices - for surgery with increased consistency and accuracy, streamlining intraoperative surgical decision making and circumventing potential post-operative complications and revisions; 3) Assistive devices and robots - to facilitate remote monitoring and managed rehabilitation in community or home care settings. The three areas share common engineering research challenges but need to be pursued under different clinical context.

The planned activities of the network include 1) Network Events: Symposia and Focused Workshops; 2) Strategic Roadmap events and User Forums; 3) Support for Interdisciplinary Mobility and Industrial Secondment; 4) Proof-of-Concept Projects and Design Competitions; 5) Exhibitions and Patient/Public Engagement; and 6) Online Engagement, Web Forum and Social Media; and 7) Health Policy and High Level Engagement. The benefits for those involved in the proposed network include partnership with extensive industrial and clinical connections already established by the partnering HTCs, host institutions, clinically aligned research and development pathways addressing the future of surgery, engagement of healthcare stakeholders and policy makers, access to research expertise and young talents in this highly interdisciplinary area, early end-user involvement, and tapping into design expertise, access to user group feedback, deliver rapid results through HTCs' clinical network, match evidence to needs of NICE, strong commercial engagement.

Planned Impact

The proposed network will foster new interdisciplinary research for establishing a critical mass around UK's research strengths in sensing, robotics and surgical devices by bridging EPSRC and NIHR research activities with significant industrial involvement and a clear translational focus. Through planned activities as detailed in the Case-for-Support, the proposed network will:

- Facilitate knowledge transfer of surgical device innovation, experimental techniques, scientific insights, promote mobility between academe, universities and industry;

- Initiate, facilitate and lead major multidisciplinary collaborative grants and development programmes through close interaction among the engineering research community, science, technology, industrial groups, and healthcare technologies stakeholders;

- Provide a platform for clinicians, engineers and industrialists to exchange ideas and forge new collaborative agreements and joint development programmes;

- Raise the awareness of key challenges and opportunities of surgical technologies and create an opportunity for researchers to work together and learn from the leaders in the field and gain an in depth knowledge of advanced surgical technologies;

- Strengthen public engagement, inspire, educate and connect young professionals in research to achieve excellence in their career and contribute to the industry and society;

- Maintain strong relationships with partner institutions and foster long-term collaborations between clinicians and engineers to translate research into advances for the benefit of the patients and improve quality of life;

- Influence healthcare policy in the effective use of new technology for addressing health challenges associated with demographic, environmental, social and economic changes.

With respect to the Impact and Translation tool, the proposed project addresses:

- Ethics: The project will go through ethical approval for all feasibility studies involving patients and the appropriate licences to perform preclinical experiments with the system prototypes; these will be acquired prior project start. The use of animal models for preclinical evaluation will be approved by Home Office and we will adhere strictly to the 3R principle of animal research.

- Health economics and evaluation: Health economic analysis will be performed as one of the impact activities. Through collaboration with the Centre for Health Policy at Imperial College, the Network has access to health economists to ensure the affordability of the proposed technology is feasible.

- Public engagement: The research will involve extensive public and end-user engagement as part of our impact activities in public communication.

- Regulation: With our network partners, issues regarding device safety and regulatory pathways will be addressed.

- Research project design: The project will focus on preclinical and precompetitive stage of research involving all impact partners; academic results will be put into the public domain; likewise, regulatory issues will be investigated for the new devices to be proposed.

- Responsible innovation: The project aims to follow the AREA framework as part of the network activities and engagement plan.

- User engagement: The network partakes in significant patient and public engagement through conferences, focussed user group workshops, open days and online forums. User engagement though the partners involved will have a wide reach of the activities and it will ensure appropriate end users, experts are involved as needed to maximise opportunities and impact of the Network.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Since its formation, the Network Plus has organised/contributed to high profile events at the annual Hamlyn Symposium; focused workshops on surgical imaging in partnership with Enteric HTC; focused workshops on Wearable and Assistive Robots in partnership with Trauma management HTC; organised the second International Surgical Robot Challenge with industrial support from Intuitive Surgical, Kuka, and Applied Dexterity
Exploitation Route -Facilitate knowledge transfer
-Initiate major multidisciplinary collaborative grants
-Provide a platform for clinicians, engineers and industrialists to exchange ideas and forge new collaborative agreements and joint development programmes;
-Maintain strong relationships with partner institutions and foster long-term collaborations between clinicians and engineers
-Influence healthcare policy in the effective use of new technology for addressing health challenges
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

URL http://hamlyn.doc.ic.ac.uk/htc/
 
Description We have taken part in Imperial BRC and Fringe festivals to inform patients and public of our research in these areas. In its first year, we ran two workshops on Surgical Imaging and Assistive Robots as part of the Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics 2016. The conference and workshops bring clinicians together with researchers in academia and industry to exchange ideas on the current state-of-the-art and future trends in these areas. For example, wearable robots, actuated prostheses and exoskeletons have made significant inroads in recent years for functional rehabilitation, restoration of natural mobility and enhancing musculoskeletal strength and endurance. Assistive robots also play a key role in managing the ageing population for general activities of daily living and remote presence for linking to specialist centres. We have had school children and public members also attend these workshops for learning purposes.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies Workshop (London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Workshop run as part of 9th Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics
Following the presentations, discussions took place to discuss future collaborations and joint grant applications.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://hamlyn.doc.ic.ac.uk/hsmr/sites/default/files//HSMR-Prog-2016-FULL-FINAL.pdf
 
Description Surgical Imaging, Guidance and Augmented Reality (London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Workshop took place as part of 9th Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics.
Further discussions took place on future collaboration and grant applications.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://hamlyn.doc.ic.ac.uk/hsmr/sites/default/files//HSMR-Prog-2016-FULL-FINAL.pdf