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UCD Connected Health Researcher Wins 2015 Google Wearables in Healthcare Pilot Challenge

Monday, 27 April, 2015 

Professor Brian Caulfield, a leading University College Dublin (UCD) connected health researcher, has won the 2015 Google Wearables in Healthcare Pilot Challenge. The Challenge, organised by Medstro in partnership with MedTech Boston and Google, took place at the end of last week at Google’s Cambridge headquarters, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Professor Caulfield won the challenge with his pitch on leveraging the sensing and computing capability of mobile phones to underpin a comprehensive rehabilitation support platform for patients undergoing elective orthopaedic surgery.

His wearable mobile support for orthopaedic rehabilitation provides real-time feedback on rehab exercises and activities in addition to making some of the exercises more game-like.

The focus of Professor Caulfield’s research programme in the UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science is on exploiting technological advances to enhance human performance in the fields of connected health and sport. Professor Caulfield is also Dean of Physiotherapy at UCD and is a Director of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics.

Professor Caulfield said, “I am delighted to have won the prestigious 2015 Google Wearables in Healthcare Pilot Challenge. Winning this challenge will help to validate our solution of using the sensors in smartphones to assist people undergoing orthopaedic rehabilitation.”

Pictured above (l-r) at Google's Cambridge Massachusetts headquarters are UCD's Professor Brian Caulfield with judges Dr Naomi Fried, Cris De Luca, Dr Jeff Greenberg, Natalie Schneider and‌ Dr David Ting.

He added, “Our idea addresses the unmet needs that patients and clinicians cite as the major challenges to successful rehabilitation outcome and satisfaction with care. By using a mobile phone as a sensing device, we are removing the need to purchase additional sensing hardware to provide patients with a solution to their problems, with all the associated costs that this involves.”

He concluded, “I would like to thank Enterprise Ireland who funded our research under the Commercialisation Fund which provides a really focus on developing commercial outputs which can gain traction in the marketplace.”

Professor Caulfield was one of 10 finalists, selected from 90 entry submissions, who delivered a pitch to a team of judges on proposed uses for wearables not yet integrated into the healthcare system, followed by a question and answer session.

Professor Caulfield won the Grand Prize of over $3,000 because, according to the 6 judges from major Boston healthcare organisations, his idea was practical, simple and had the potential to reach many patients.

“I founded Medstro to connect physicians with each other and to get them more involved in the innovation that is creating the future of medicine,” Medstro and MedTech Boston co-founder and event organiser Dr Jennifer Joe said. “But I realised that online communication is not enough, which is why Medstro regularly brings stakeholders together for exciting and meaningful events like the Wearables Challenge.”

Finalist William Younker, who proposed using the MisFit Shine to monitor concussion patients, was recognised as Runner-Up. Team Memorandum won the Crowd Favourite award for their idea of tracking patient medication adherence using wearable devices.

Professor Caulfield’s team working on this project includes two physical therapists, Dr Diarmaid Fitzgerald and Dr Oonagh Giggins, both PhD graduates from his programme at UCD, and Professor Tahar Kechadi, UCD School of Computer Science and Informatics.

The 6 Challenge judges were Dr Naomi Fried, Vice-President, Medical Information, Innovation and External Partnerships, Biogen Idec; Dr Rich Gliklich, Executive in Residence, General Catalyst Partners; Natalie Schneider, Vice-President of Consumer Experience, Anthem; Dr David Ting, Chief Medical Information Officer, Massachusetts General Physicians Organization; Cris De Luca, Digital Innovation Lead, Johnson & Johnson Innovation; and Dr Jeff Greenberg, Medical Director, BWH Innovation Hub.