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Digital Focus For Regional Health Research

Innovation and a strong digital presence are key to harnessing the research-rich culture in the region, according to research leaders speaking at annual healthcare event.

Over 200 researchers and healthcare staff from across the North East and North Cumbria attended the ‘Transforming Research Delivery’ event at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead on Thursday March 14th.

Hosted by the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria (NIHR CRN NENC), the event showcased digital based healthcare innovations to come out of the region and focused on how new technologies and platforms could be harnessed moving forward.

A wide range of speakers from across the region’s NHS Foundation Trusts and research organisations shared their experience and knowledge into recent successes and opportunities, in addition to how current research success in the North East and North Cumbria can be built upon.

Sue Jacques, Chief Executive of County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, discussed the position of the alliances in the integrated care system to deliver research. Durham Tees Valley Research Alliance.

Speaking after the event, she said: “Research and Innovation play such an important role in healthcare in enabling breakthroughs, preventing illness, enabling earlier diagnosis and supporting the development of more effective treatments, better outcomes and faster recovery.

“This event demonstrates the ambition and commitment that we have across the NHS in the North East to support and enable high quality, active research and innovation for the benefit of patients. It was also an opportunity to further explore and promote how we can better work together as organisations and the benefits this can bring in terms of increased opportunities for patients to be involved in research and in maximizing resources and budgets.”

Professor Stephen Robson, Clinical Director at the NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria, said: “We’re delighted to have had such a knowledgeable range of speakers at our annual event, highlighting the excellent research within the region.

“In the North East and North Cumbria we pride ourselves on our innovative research, in addition to our ability to plan and adapt with new technologies. Developing a forward-thinking and creative research culture is something we strive for and we have a talented pool of research staff to help improve the quality of health care. Working collaboratively, through events such as this, we can share best practice and successes between colleagues, and continue to increase the research reputation in the region.” The main theme of the event was the importance and role digital technologies can have within research. Other key areas covered on the day included an update on the research carried out by the Mental Health and DeNDRoN (Dementias and Neurodegeneration) partnership, an update on the research careers of Nurses, Midwives and Allied Health Professionals (NMAHPs), as well as a keynote speech from Google Cloud’s Head of Public Sector and Life Sciences, Mark Palmer. Mark spoke to delegates about Google’s portfolio of AI and machine learning tools, their range of software applications and how they can help improve healthcare and research.

He said: “Throughout my 35 year career in the ICT industry, I can honestly say that we now live in the most exciting phase of the modern information technology revolution. The capabilities of Machine Learning and data analytics; all powered by a global highly secure cloud; will enable scientists to make greater and more life changing discoveries ….. faster”

A series of workshops focused on supporting workforces use of digital technologies to make life easier, how social media can be used within research, developing a research idea to funding and how staff can transform research delivery with digital care technologies.

Delegates also had the chance to visit a marketplace, made up of exhibitor stands representing organisations, universities and patient bodies from across the region.

To learn more about clinical trials, visit: www.nihr.ac.uk/nencumbria or the UK Clinical Trials Gateway: https://www.ukctg.nihr.ac.uk/

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