What is Connected Health? Connected Health is a proactive model that utilises technology to ensure the appropriate information is in the right place at the right time. The patient is at centre of the process and healthcare is delivered to the patient by the most suitable route by connecting all the stakeholders involved. This new model can save lives, money and ensures a better quality of healthcare for everyone.
Sounds good but what is missing?
In order to provide a truly connected healthcare model, research and training needs to be in place to educate the various stakeholders in Connected Health. CHESS was conceived through this gap in existing educational programmes, to provide a Connected Health Early Stage Researcher Support System and won funding through the H2020 Marie Skłodowska Curie Initial Training Network (ITN).
So we won the funding – now what is next? Well the fun now starts as the CHESS proposal needs to come to life. People need to be hired. Processes need to be put in place. The research needs to start and the training delivered.
The Kick Off
The consortium got together on Monday 15th October 2015, at UCD in Dublin, Ireland.
(left to right back to front: Daniel Guldening – Ulster University, Dewar Finlay – Ulster University, Ioanna Chouvarda – Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Santiago Hors Fraile – Salumedia, Nicos Maglaveras – Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Gemma Watts – UCD, Helen Schonenberg – Philips, Jim McLaughlin – Ulster University, Ailish Daly – Beacon Hospital, Nicola Mountford – UCD, Brian Caulfield – UCD, Luis Fernandez Luque – Salumedia, Tara Cusack – UCD and Minna Isomursu – University of Oulu.)
The Programme Manager had been hired to implement the project and recruitment was underway for the 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs). The future plans and processes for delivering the project were formalised and we were off.
Let the conversation begin – Brand and Social Media
In November and December 2015, the website was under construction and the first tweets went out from @chess_itn. The project was moving in the right direction, but it still didn’t feel real. Not until the ESRs started in January and February 2016 and literally breathed life into CHESS.
What is the point? Our Aim
CHESS is the first networked connected health PhD research and training programme and without these PhD students in place, it was just words with no substance. To see the profiles of the 15 ESRs check out here.
From March – July 2016, the research objectives could now begin to be finalised, career development plans made and training programmes finessed. The aim of CHESS could now be fully realised and activities implemented to achieve this. To provide a connected health PhD research and training programme.
Getting off on the right foot – Orientation Conference
The first network wide event took place on the 8th – 11th August 2016, at UCD, Dublin, Ireland and it was the first opportunity for us all to come together in one place face to face, rather than virtually. Supervisors and ESRS came from as far a way as Greece, Spain, Finland, France, Northern Ireland and The Netherlands. The face-to-face network wide training programme was designed around the need to give all the ESRs some degree of knowledge in all realms of Connected Health.
(left to right: Ghalib, Rob, Brian, Caoimhe, Gemma, Luis, Dewar, Minna, Vidya, Violeta, Guido, Vasiliki, Cecilia, Neva, Casandra, Yasaman, Ailish, Estefania, Vincent)
The point is? Our purpose.
What CHESS does is to bring the ESRs on a journey through their 3 years with the project, to give them a broad interdisciplinary exposure to all elements in connected health from different perspectives: academia, clinical, patient, policy, industry etc. This is to expand on their discipline specific PhD that they have all registered for at their assigned academic organisation. This will build upon their experiences they gain through their research and training both at their host organisation and their secondment placements. These secondments have been designed to place them in different sectors such as industry, academia and clinical. This is to give the CHESS PhD’s a broader knowledge in all elements in Connected Health, whilst still ensuring they have a strong discipline knowledge. See figure below.
International training programme? Go virtual!
With the ESRs breathing life into the project, they also brought they own set of skills and training needs that had not been realised at proposal stage. So CHESS went virtual and ran short, concise training courses through Skype and webinars. These started in April 2016 and are still running. Attendance by the ESRs was voluntary and the trainers were taken from the experts within the consortium to ensure that no additional training costs were incurred for the project.
Where are we now?
Well it is May 2017 and CHESS is now close to it’s two year mid-point and the ESRs will soon be going to their second face to face network wide event in Oulu, Finland in June 2017. Details of the training programme can be found here
The project’s mid term review meeting is fast approaching, 15th June 2017, in Oulu, Finland and all signs are good that we are on track. Fingers crossed that the feedback at the meeting from our Project Officer and EU assigned expert will be positive. We have planned and worked hard for this meeting, so we hope it will be recognised and it will be good to know how we are doing.
In the coming years (2018 and 2019), CHESS will keep working on research in Connected Health, whilst also delivering a unique research and training programme that can be expanded. The focus going forward will be to:
- look at how to make CHESS sustainable,
- assist the ESRs in achieving their PhD and their future career goals, and
- deliver on the remainder of the project, EU requirements and deliverables.
Public and Patient involvement will increase over these later stages of the project through health hacks and patient pairing at forthcoming training events and through public outreach and engagement. Dissemination of our research and data will be made available to those outside the project, in the hope that it can be used to improve healthcare in Europe.
Our final say.
The ultimate goal for CHESS is to send out into the world 15 highly trained and experienced PhD students who will go on to become the next generation in Connected Health Scientists and Champions. Equipped to communicate and work in an intersectoral Connected Health environment, in new patient focused ways, to improve the patient care journey and to bring this new learning and skill set to their future colleagues.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 676201