FutureNeuro and Ergo partner to enhance eHealth infrastructure for providing better epilepsy care

FutureNeuro, the SFI Research Centre for chronic and rare neurological conditions based at RCSI, has announced its partnership with Irish Cloud solution provider Ergo to enhance crucial eHealth infrastructure in Ireland and provide improved monitoring for people living with epilepsy.

The research will provide a voice-based user interface for an existing Epilepsy Patient Portal allowing people to co-author their own electronic patient record (EPR). This enhanced user interface, that enables real-time reporting of health information using the patients' voice, will make the system more useful for clinicians and easier to use for patients.

This project combines Ergo's software development skills with FutureNeuro's understanding of the needs of people with epilepsy, their families and healthcare providers. The goal of the project is to improve the Epilepsy Patient Portal functionality in order to deliver optimal patient care.

Ultimately, these eHealth advances can help patients and doctors continuously monitor patients' symptoms via mobile devices. This eHealth technology platform also has the potential to enhance future research and clinical trials on epilepsy.

Mary Fitzsimons, collaborator at FutureNeuro and Director of the Epilepsy eHealth Lighthouse Programme at RCSI said: "Conditions like epilepsy currently rely on patient history to characterise events, which is subject to patient recall and accurate disclosure. Real-time reporting of patient seizure information and activities of daily living provides a wealth of clinical information that can inform management by analysis of data over an extended monitoring period. FutureNeuro's industry-supported research with Ergo will result in new smart health solutions being developed and clinically evaluated."

In 2015, the HSE and eHealthIreland designated the National Epilepsy eHealth programme as a Lighthouse for the country to help build a national understanding of the quality, safety and efficiency benefits of electronic health records and to illustrate the economic opportunity for Ireland in terms of becoming a global leader in eHealth technology development and use.

Derek Kehoe, Director at Ergo, said: "We are delighted to be part of this multidisciplinary group that looks to utilize technology to help support the care of people with epilepsy. This is another step on the path to a true patient-centric approach, allowing them to interact with technology though voice to support their long-term care. We have successfully delivered on the Lighthouse projects to date, allowing patients to interact with their records. This represents another opportunity to deliver on the potential of eHealth in Ireland."

FutureNeuro, which is funded by Science Foundation Ireland, aims to deliver advances in understanding disease initiation and progress. With this understanding, and through industry partnerships, new technologies and solutions for the treatment, diagnosis and monitoring of chronic and rare neurological diseases will be developed.

Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, welcomed the collaboration, saying: "The SFI Research Centres bring together the best researchers in academia and companies across Ireland to work on strategic research programmes, with the primary objective of delivering significant economic and societal impact to Ireland. I am delighted to see this collaboration come to fruition between FutureNeuro and Ergo, which has the potential to transform the lives of those living with neurological disorders using innovative eHealth technologies."

Director of Research and Innovation at RCSI, Professor Ray Stallings, said: "The partnership between FutureNeuro and Ergo will further enable healthcare professionals to provide the best quality of care for people with epilepsy. I look forward to the success of this new technology in this study and the potential benefits it will bring to future epilepsy research."

Epilepsy affects more than 60 million people worldwide, making it one of the most common neurological conditions. Research based on large health datasets can help researchers understand the underlying cause of the disease, provide insights into disease progression and response to treatment within a population. Those insights can then be used to assess risk factors, inform treatment planning for individuals and distribution of healthcare resources.

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