Artificial intelligence to improve quality of life for elderly people who are chronically ill

Artificial intelligence may help to improve the quality of care for people who have chronic illnesses or who are terminally ill. The proposed treatment could also have a positive socioeconomic impact.

The project, called InAdvance, aims to develop new programmes that could help to improve palliative care for elderly people who have chronic diseases such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

Major challenges that the project will address include the analysing of diverse patients’ needs, reducing the socio-economic impact caused by chronic diseases, and improving the quality of life for patients and their families.

Made possible through the EU Horizon 2020 programme, the project has been awarded almost €4.1m. It is a four-year research collaboration involving Leeds researchers from the Schools of Computing and Medicine, who will work alongside 11 partners from 7 countries as part of a European consortium.

Driving medical research forward

Leeds academics will be leading research that includes analysing healthcare records using ‘machine learning,’ which involves teaching computers to spot data patterns which can identify possible care pathways.

This research will be combined with text-mining of digital online content to identify different social and other factors linked to quality of life.

Applied health researchers will work with patients, families and healthcare professionals to pinpoint the best time to integrate needs assessment for palliative care. Then, they will evaluate the impact of this within a clinical trial.

The Leeds team will be working closely with partners at St Gemma’s University Teaching Hospice and NHS Highland in the UK to conduct the research and early palliative care intervention.

Dr Vania Dimitrova, the Leeds principal investigator for the project, said:

This is novel impact-driven research that applies Artificial Intelligence to address key palliative care challenges in order to improve health outcomes.

“It offers an exciting opportunity to develop cross-Faculty working between medicine and engineering, which started during my secondment at the Leeds Institute of Medical Education, and is now part of a larger European research programme.”

Professor Mike Bennett, who is leading the Academic Unit of Palliative Care at St Gemma's Hospice, added:

“Our previous research has shown that patients with non-cancer diseases have much poorer access to, and duration of, palliative care than those with cancer.

This major EU funding will allow us to work with other academic partners to lead work on reducing these inequalities to benefit patients in Leeds and more widely.

Professor Panos Bamidis, visiting professor in the Leeds Institute of Medical Education, said:

“This project offers an exciting opportunity to strengthen the links between the University of Leeds and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, opening up new avenues for research on the innovative use of technology to support patients, families and health professional.”

Further information

The InAdvance consortium involves researchers from the following institutions:

  • University of Valencia, Spain

  • Universitat Politècnica de València, Spain

  • Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

  • University of Leeds (UK), and Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam (The Netherlands)

  • Healthcare providers IIS La Fe Hospital, Spain, Santa Casa da Misericordia da Amadora, Portugal, and NHS Highland, UK

  • Technical SMEs Salumedia, Spain, and Nively, France

  • AGE Platform Europe, Belgium.

The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the grant agreement No 825750.

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