Ireland’s €5m Applied Research for Connected Health (Arch) technology centre has been officially launched in UCD today.

Connected health involves using connecting technologies and medical devices and treatments for healthcare applications.  Technologies relating to sensors, alarm systems, vital sign monitoring devices, health informatics and data management systems are also key elements in the development of connected health solutions.

Headquartered at UCD’s industry partnership centre, NexusUCD, Arch will also have input from University of Limerick (UL) and most of the higher education institutes in the country with connected health research capabilities.

Fifteen industry partners are currently steering the Arch research programme, namely ADA Security Systems, Boston Scientific, Hermitage Medical Clinic, Icon, OpenHealth, Novartis, Relate Care, S3 Group, Swiftqueue, Theya Lingerie, Two Ten Health, Vitalograph, Philips, Resmed and Vu2Vu.

The centre funded by the Department of Jobs through Enterprise Ireland and is also supported by IDA Ireland.

“Every country in the world is facing infinite demand for healthcare services from finite resources, spiralling costs caused by the invention of new drugs, medical equipment and procedures, higher patient expectations and an ageing population (by 2051, close to 40pc of the EU’s population will be older than 65),” said Arch centre director, Michael O’Shea.

“Combined with shortages of health professionals, the scale of the challenge is daunting. However advances in technology, such as those being developed through Arch, are enabling a shift towards personalised healthcare and information-based health services which will improve patient experiences and reduce the cost of delivering healthcare.”

During the initial research phase, the Arch team focused on caring for patients with dementia. The model will now be applied to a broader range of clinical conditions, as decided by industry and healthcare needs, such as diabetes and heart disease.

“The Arch approach enables us to shift from a reactive episodic healthcare model to a more proactive model that connects stakeholders across the spectrum – from the home to the acute care setting – throughout the lifespan and puts the patient at the centre of the process,” said Oliver Tattan, independent chairman of the industry steering group. “In doing so, a connected health approach has the potential to empower patients, clinicians and healthcare planners alike by means of delivery of pertinent information at appropriate intervention points in the care pathway.”

“Market-focused technology centres such as Arch are an effective model for ensuring that the application of State-funded research in Ireland is closely coupled to industry needs,” said  Gearóid Mooney, research and innovation manager, Enterprise Ireland.

“Experience to date has established that it can deliver real results for the companies, the research community and ultimately accomplish the state’s objective of investing in the commercialisation of research in sectors of strategic and economic importance to Ireland.”