eHealth expert named among nation’s lifesavers

A researcher who focuses on improving access to digital health has been chosen for a new campaign highlighting the positive impact of universities on the nation’s wellbeing. 

Professor Ray Jones, Professor of eHealth, is included in the ‘nation’s lifesavers’ list compiled by Universities UK, the umbrella group for UK universities.

The Nation's Lifesavers - MadeAtUni

The list has been launched as part of the national MadeAtUni campaign, which aims to change public perceptions of universities and bring to life the difference they make to people, lives and communities across the UK.

See more of the nation's lifesavers on the MadeAtUni website

Professor Jones’s work has a backdrop of 15 million people in the UK living with a long-term health condition, according to Government figures. 

Of these people, 6.8 million regularly use services such as their GP or their local hospital. Technology, including apps and remote consultation, is helping to ease pressure on the NHS, but only 24% of people are registered with their GP online, and nearly 10% of the public have never used the internet. 

Professor Jones is leading work to empower more people to use digital health. He oversees a project called Digital Health Champions, which sees the University of Plymouth’s nursing students work with local people to use technology to improve their healthcare, from sending emails to arranging online prescriptions.

<p>Sonam Zamir shows Skype to care home resident</p>
Ray's projects and PhD students Video calls in care homes

Professor Jones also leads the eHealth and Productivity in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (EPIC) project funded by the European Regional Development Fund, aiming to identify health and social care issues in the region and support local companies to develop technological solutions. As part of this, he has recently secured funding for 150 Amazon Echo Spots to be placed into Cornwall care homes. These smart speakers could be used for reminiscence playing music, reminding people of events in the care home, or to keep them connected with family and friends.

Read more about the Amazon Echo Spots project

Professor Ray Jones on the importance of the EPIC project:

The idea of the project is to develop and use eHealth - such as websites, technology and apps - to improve health and wellbeing in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and, where possible, make sure that the eHealth solutions are made there too.

Find out more about EPIC

Already the feedback for his projects has been touching and impactful, and Professor Jones said:

“A lot of us take technology for granted, but there are more people than we realise who still need help to access it.

By overcoming the barriers – social, financial or practical – we can start to open up technological doors to improve people’s health and wellbeing. It’s been incredible to see the difference that projects have made to people’s lives.

“From apps to robots and even simple screen time, the work led by us at the University of Plymouth is helping people stay connected or self-manage their condition. It’s great to be included in the MadeAtUni list, and there are many more lives that our work can help to improve.”
The ‘nation’s lifesavers’ initiative follows the MadeAtUni Top 100 breakthroughs list in December, which showcased the work of Professor Richard Thompson OBE and the International Marine Litter Research Unit.

Microplastics research highlighted as one of UK’s 100 best university breakthroughs

More plastic has been produced in the last seven years than in all of the last century. Through greater awareness of the problem, the wider world is waking up to this global challenge and the importance of taking action.

The work of the International Marine Litter Research Unit is featured in a campaign from Universities UK

MadeAtUni: reducing marine plastic litter