EPSRC - NIHR HTC Partnership Award: Partnership with the MindTech HTC

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: School of Health Sciences


This is a proposal for a partnership between engineering and physical science (EPS) researchers - initially in the Universities of Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield, Lancaster and York - and the MindTech Healthcare Technology Cooperative. The aim is to explore the potential for technology to transform the management and treatment of mental health conditions, identifying underpinning EPS research challenges, and working together to address them. Mental health already accounts for 13% of the NHS budget (the highest proportion for any disease area, and growing rapidly) and is a major cause of reduced quality of life. Most care is in the community, but most of the cost is associated with unplanned hospital admissions resulting from inadequate/ineffective care. There is great potential for technology to transform care in the community - improving diagnosis/stratification, supporting self-care, involving family and friends more effectively, and providing timely prompts and alerts for healthcare professionals. If this potential is to be realised, there are, however, significant EPS challenges to be addressed - in sensing systems, information management, data analytics and human-computer interaction.

The model we propose aims to build an integrated community of EPS researchers and users, who will co-develop an EPS research agenda grounded in a clear clinical need, informed by the perspectives, experiences and needs of patients/carers, healthcare commissioning/provider organisations, healthcare professionals and industry (both technology and healthcare, ranging from SMEs to large multinational companies).

The partnership will focus on four broad clinical areas of major societal importance, aligned with the MindTech HTC agenda: serious mental illness, mood and affective disorder, dementia, and developmental disorders - each with clinical leadership - drawing on mental health expertise in both Nottingham (the MindTech HTC) and Manchester.
We currently identify four areas of challenging EPS research required to underpin the development of effective technologies for managed self-care of mental health conditions: sensing systems for acquiring rich, 'real-time' longitudinal data (new sensing technologies, sensor systems); information management methods for incrementally integrating and linking heterogeneous information and data (integrating and linking data from different sources, information representation); data analytics for extracting predictive outcome models, particularly from temporal data (modelling longitudinal data, modelling populations of temporal models, image computing; and human-computer interaction methods for the managed self-care setting (collaborative decision-support).

Planned Impact

Academic: EPS researchers will understand the clinical need and service delivery context of concrete scenarios for technology interventions, allowing them to frame EPS research with the potential for significant healthcare benefit.

Economic: Mental health technology is expected to become a multi-billion pound business over the next few decades. A number of the companies who will engage with the network via the Greater Manchester mHealth Ecosystems and the network being established by the MindTech HTC already have a strong and growing interest in mental health. The network will give them the opportunity to understand the healthcare need, engage with leading researchers in both EPS and healthcare in a setting focussed on mental health technology, influencing the research agenda and collaborating in projects, providing competitive advantage.

Societal: the burden of mental health care is a major economic and quality of life cost to the community. The ultimate aim of the research the network will spawn is to provide better, cheaper care.


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Description Working with researchers, clinicians, patients and industry, the project has developed a research roadmap, setting out target mental health outcomes, engineering and physical science research challenges, and an ethical and responsible innovation framework.
Exploitation Route This work will inform future research on technology for mental health interventions.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Healthcare

URL http://www.newmindnetwork.org.uk/
Description This project was extended with NetworkPlus funding (EP/N026977/1) to further develop the network and provide support for feasibility studies. The network has grown to over 465 members (62 NHS/clinical, 263 non-clinical researchers, 39 mental health service-users, 27 charity/patient representative, 59 industry, 14 funder/support) from 137 organisations. It has exposed researchers to new problems and has created a community of practice. The roadmap has had impact beyond academia - it has, for instance, been used as input to the Cross-Council Mental Health initiative, and through that route may lead to targeted funding in the area of technology for mental health. Further outcomes are reported under the NetworkPlus project.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Healthcare
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description EPSRC Healthcare Technology Network Plus
Amount £506,227 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/N026977/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2016 
End 11/2019