News

University of Queensland’s collaborative culture creates a ready digital health network

General 1 April 2019

There are more than 250 people working in digital health at the University of Queensland (UQ), spread across nine research Centres and Schools. In collaboration with industry, Queensland Health, individual health services and hospitals, they cover the digital health spectrum from data ethics to end user experience.

When the Digital Health CRC (DHCRC) was announced in July 2018, UQ took the opportunity to draw that digital health community together.

“The establishment of the DHCRC was a catalyst for us to bring together expertise from across UQ to make a contribution to the growing digital health sector,” says Professor Len Gray, Director at the Centre for Health Services Research.

“While there were already many strong relationships across research groups, we made an effort to identify everyone working in the digital health space and establish a virtual network. We knew we wanted to be ready for when DHCRC projects were announced.”

UQ’s researchers cover wide ranges in patient age, health stage and distance, too. 

Professor Anthony Smith, Director at the Centre for Online Health, is currently running a project in telepaediatrics, while several of Professor Gray’s projects involve aged care telehealth and structured assessment systems.

In the Cancer Prevention Research Centre, Director Professor Elizabeth Eakin and Co-Director Associate Professor Genevive Healy are working on cloud-based platforms to deliver individualised behaviour-change messaging at scale (Propelo™) and generate practice-based evidence of successful research interventions (Wildfyre™).

Over in the Centre for Research in Telerehabilitation RECOVER Injury Research Centre, co-directors Professors Deborah Theodoros and Trevor Russell, oversee the world’s earliest and most comprehensive telerehabilitation program.  Other projects in their field include developing new rehabilitation delivery models to keep patients engaged in their recovery over the long term.

Dr Guido Zuccon leads the Health Data Science research at the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering (ITEE). The school, represented by Professor Janet Wiles, Associate Professor Stephen Viller and many others, has a broader focus on artificial intelligence in various health areas.

With busy research teams approaching digital health from such different angles, finding time to bring everyone together is no mean feat.

“We ran a university wide digital health workshop in January and it was well attended,” says Xianxian Jiang, Business Development & Innovation Partnerships Manager at ITEE.

“Everyone who participated in the workshop took the time to learn about expertise in other research groups. The encouragement and positive feedback at the workshop helped cement a collaborative and positive framework for the network.”

With so much already in place, what is on the cards for Digital Health at UQ this year?

“We are looking forward to strengthening our connections with the health services and the technology sector through the DHCRC,” says Ms Jiang.

“And we are excited that we keep broadening our network as we uncover another researcher at UQ working on a project relating to digital health,” she adds.

Professor Gray agrees that the network will be the key to unlocking the full potential of digital health.

“We know addressing current and future health challenges is difficult because health is so complex.  At UQ we know our best chance of success is working together,” he says.

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