Dr Will Dixon, Director of the Arthritis UK Centre for Epidemiology at The University of Manchester, travelled to Boston in 2013 to meet leading experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and discuss his research, as part of the M2EET international collaboration established by MAHSC.
My trip to MIT was inspiring, generating ideas for how advancing technology can be applied to healthcare. Ideas developed whilst in Boston have since become funded projects, such as a project I am leading at The University of Manchester’s Health eResearch Centre (HeRC) to measure symptom severity in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
RA affects around 400,000 people in the UK and causes fatigue, pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. It can be a debilitating condition its symptoms are erratic and unpredictable. It is essential clinicians can accurately understand the progression of their patients’ disease, but there is currently no way to objectively measure symptom severity between appointments.
Our new smartphone app, designed by software developers U-Motif, uses sensors to track patients’ activity as part of everyday life, then the patient is prompted to record how they are feeling on a scale from 1 to 5 on key indicators such as pain, fatigue and general wellbeing.
The app also requests information from local weather stations to capture climate data, as many patients have pointed to a suspected link between their symptoms and the weather.
In 2014, the project, for which I have partnered with Dr Karen Spencer at The University of Manchester’s Centre for Primary Care, received £80,000 in funding from the Medical Research Council to run a feasibility test into the technology, which we are currently undertaking with a group of 20 volunteers from Salford.
Click here to read more about Will’s research