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MK:5G – Living Labs – Healthcare of the Future

By on

The Satellite Applications Catapult hosted two events in March as part of the MK:5G Connected Communities Project. Recordings of those events are hosted here https://www.mk5ghealth.co.uk/, along with a discussion board for you to get involved in the conversation.

These virtual events were an opportunity to showcase and discover several solutions that could fit into a reimagined or redesigned care pathway through the increased prospects 5G can enable. Some of the technologies showcased at the events are also available to come and see at the Catapult’s Healthy Living Lab in Westcott, where the events were hosted.

Care Homes – reducing risk for vulnerable patients

The first event aired on 17 March was focused on care homes and their residents. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the risks to patients that require medical attention outside of normal check-ups. 400,000 people in the UK are in a care home currently and when they require urgent or unscheduled medical attention this puts their health at risk, particularly with the current state of health emergency. The restrictions we are all currently living through have highlighted the need to reduce physical visits and utilise technology to undertake medical assessments.

The riskS and challenges of healthcare advice and diagnosis in a pandemic are not only restricted to those in care homes. It has a significant impact on those living at home or in supported housing and it affects not only the elderly but also vulnerable younger adults.

Endoscopy assessment – Pill Cam – the new watch word

The second event hosted on 24 March focussed on the much talked about pill-cam as an alternative to the often uncomfortable endoscopy assessment for bowel cancer. Over 42,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK*. The goal is to move diagnoses out of hospitals to closer to home. We would also like to help address the long waiting list and help support patients in remote locations.

Like with the event on care homes we had to understand the current context of the pandemic, but it was encouraging to see how many organisations were starting to develop solutions whereby we no longer need to rely exclusively on physical hospital visits for all scenarios. Even within the context of the infrastructure plan for the 40 new hospitals being developed in England it is encouraging to see how many references there are to moving care closer to home and closer to the patient.

Living Labs

During these events we demonstrated how the Healthy Living Lab has made research and development in these areas possible for a variety of organisations seeking to shift the landscape of healthcare in the UK.

The Healthy Living Lab is an approach to innovation that brings together healthcare practitioners and technology providers to co-create, develop, and deliver solutions, and we are increasingly of the opinion that this requires physical space to showcase: to come and see – either physically or virtually – what is available so that we can discover, share, and access as a collective community examples of services prototyped, trialledevaluated, and implemented.  

We work with organisations to look at the current status quo in their field and see where services could be stretched/changed to where they want to be in the future. Sometimes that might mean utilising existing technology to maximise its potential. In other cases, it may mean creating brand new technology and prototyping potential options to create a new solution.

We are interested in working with organisations at any stage of their journey, including those that have prototypes or established products to test at Westcott in the Living Labs to see how they could be used in healthcare pathways.

Risk-opportunity analysis plays an important role in setting out how far along that spectrum the local system is willing to go, or at least in the first few stages. This analysis includes a review of the changes and their implications on ways of working, metrics, finances, and other risk-opportunity factors.

The Living Lab is designed around a 9-step methodology created with partners at NHS Arden & GEM Commissioning Support Unit.

We are also looking at creating virtual Living Labs so that a client’s location is not a barrier to innovation. Using virtual and augmented reality technology we are working towards simulating the Living Lab in virtual reality. This is exciting and creates the chance for everyone to take part in the

Living Lab experience and use the technology to understand how their service may evolve in future.

Our collaborators

The speakers from these MK:5G events are working along the same innovation process that the Living Lab follows to evolve their ideas from prototype to solution. To learn more about their journey and the opportunities their technology and innovation can bring to the healthcare sector, watch their presentations during the event, see their bios on the event pages (https://www.mk5ghealth.co.uk/), and read our showcase blogs which will be released over the next few weeks.

Join the conversation

Across both events, a discussion forum was live with comments/questions from the audience. These forums are available for everyone interested in this research and innovation to access during the remainder of 2021. We are excited to see how the Living Lab will unfold over the coming year. To be part of the discussion, register and join our forums on https://www.mk5ghealth.co.uk/ to understand the opportunities available and see how they might fit into your research and development plans for your organisation.


John Vesey
Business Manager - Health
+44 (0)1235 567999
John joined the Satellite Applications Catapult in March 2014 and has worked in a number of roles supporting the public sector in the UK and beyond understand the benefits of satellites for their business as usual.

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