An interview with Dr Jake Andrews on clinical pathways and keeping well during Covid-19

Dr Jake Andrews is a Research Fellow working on the Clinical Pathways Work Package 9, looking at how the RADAR-CNS remote measurement technologies (RMT) system could be integrated into clinical pathways. He’s based at University of Nottingham, UK. ...

Their work identifies the requirements of clinical stakeholders (such as healthcare professionals, managers, commissioners and payers) for integrating remote measurement technologies into care pathways for depression, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis (MS) in different European healthcare systems.

What is the focus of your work within the RADAR-CNS project?

I’m currently working on a value proposition, detailing how and why the RADAR-CNS system we are developing has value to different groups of stakeholders working with people with depression, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis (MS).

We're also considering the challenges of putting the system into practice and aspects of workflows and use of the devices which will need attention before the system can be used in everyday healthcare. For example, thinking about the points in a healthcare pathway at which RMT can be most effectively used, considering how this could work with technology and software that clinicians are already using, and which members of a clinical team should be tasked with managing different aspects of the management of the technology.  

It can be challenging to understand the ins and outs of how health services work in different countries, as well as the laws and political pushes and pulls that are affecting the use of digital interventions in health. Healthcare practices, laws, governance and policies are changing all the time, particularly in the current climate, so we have to make sure our work fits with this 'bigger picture' as well.

What do you enjoy the most about working on the project?

I really enjoy working with team members from across the different countries and universities involved in the  project. These are some of the biggest names in the fields we are working in, and so this project represents a fantastic opportunity to do important and far-reaching work. I'm putting to use the knowledge and skills gained in my PhD, where I explored the use of machine learning to predict depression in older people, and conducted studies with clinicians and older people to explore their needs in using technology to support mental health.

What do you think is the importance of the project for the wider field of wearable devices?

Wearables give us access to vast quantities of data from multiple tiny sensors. The people manufacturing these devices can be quite agnostic about how these devices should or could be used, and there is a huge amount of untapped potential for their use in healthcare. What we are doing in RADAR-CNS is conducting robust research studies to allow us to say confidently whether these devices are suitable to improve care for people with central nervous system disorders. If our studies show that there is potential for their use in the three conditions we're looking at, the work we do could easily be expanded to look at other conditions. Some of this expansion work is already being done, with researchers in Nottingham looking at the potential of RADAR in bipolar disorder, among other areas.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your work?

I am following the British government's guidance by working from home and running all meetings online. The current phase of work involves talking to RADAR-CNS colleagues from other institutions across Europe to make use of what we have learnt so far, and this work can all be done virtually.

In many ways, my work continues unimpeded!

Some aspects of the RADAR-CNS observational studies have been modified as a result of restrictions, and this may change or limit what we can confidently say about the use of wearable technology in CNS disorders at the end of the project. However, the situation has reinforced the importance of the work we are doing - if more information can be gathered from patients using remote measurement technologies, there may be less need for patients to travel to healthcare settings where respiratory and other illnesses can be easily transmitted. 

I'm keeping in regular contact with colleagues and friends via the phone and videochat, and I am getting outside for my daily exercise, which I find really important to keep me fit and well. I'm reminding myself that limiting the amount time I spend out of the house is really important for my health and that of others, and I'm hoping that the world can develop a safe and effective vaccine soon.