Safer, smarter home platform up for iAward

The Safer Smarter Homes platform being developed by the Australian eHealth Research Centre (AEHRC) to enable older people to remain in their own homes for longer is in the running for a national iAward, to be announced in Melbourne on Thursday.

The AEHRC, a joint venture between CSIRO and Queensland Health, is developing the platform and trialling it at an aged care facility with the assistance of a local GP, as well as in 20 broadband-enabled homes in northern NSW. The project also involves the University of New England and the Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation (ACBI).

The project, led by the senior research scientist Mohan Karunanithi, has developed a sensor-based in-home monitoring system to enable older people to live longer at home. The platform combines hardware such as sensors and iPads with software such as iPad apps and family and medical portals, and uses broadband connectivity to support sensor technology and connect residents with healthcare practitioners, family and friends.

It is also designed to assist with social inclusion and psychological well-being by connecting with video conferencing systems to enable older people to keep in touch with family and friends.

“The platform enables connections to simple sensors in the home from which we an extract activities of daily living and with the use of the NBN, transmit it to the older people so they can self-manage but also engage friends or relatives to use the platform to provide support,” Dr Karunanithi said.

“We really hope this platform becomes a standard across Australia among older people to enable them to get support or for institutions to provide home services, because it is designed to link with standard sensors that are off the shelf.”

The project will also work on developing a decision support system for clinicians and healthcare workers that provides alerts and triage for the care of older people living in their own homes, as well as a communication and support system.

The platform is one of a number of healthcare-related CSIRO projects that are up for an iAward, including its automatic disease grading and clinical decision support system for diabetic retinopathy level grading; its computer-aided ocular biomarker suite, which is developing an eye test for early detection of Alzheimer's disease; and the Lung Anatomy Trainer (eLAnT), a web-based program that uses an online lung anatomy and nomenclature training tool for teaching the complex and variable human lung anatomy seen from a fibre-optic inspection tool.

Also up for an award is MedTex, the software platform that is able to extract clinically relevant information from free text in medical reports and is currently being used to automate the analysis of cancer pathology reports.

All of this research now falls under the newly created CSIRO Computational Informatics (CCI) research division, which is designed to create a capability hub in key research areas including next generation data analytics, autonomous robotics, complex systems modelling and decision making under uncertainty.

Former head of CSIRO's Mathematics, Informatics and Statistics division, Bronwyn Harch, was named today as the new division's chief.

Australia's ageing population is one of the challenges being tackled by the new division, Dr Harch said. CCI will work with CSIRO's national research flagship program, including the Preventative Health and Digital Productivity and Services flagships.

"Through our Preventative Health Flagship, we are already leading the way in transforming advanced data analytics to pinpoint the genes that could lead to a simple blood screening test for Alzheimer's disease before it takes hold,” she said.

“We're also working on another project, with our Digital Productivity and Services Flagship and Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation (ACBI), which leverages next generation broadband networks to monitor health data and help older Australians to live in their own homes longer, independently and safely."

Posted in Aged Care

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