An important new partnership between Bournemouth University, the local NHS and industry has been launched with the aim of using innovation to drive forward improvements in healthcare outcomes for people across Dorset.

The ‘Transforming Healthcare Through Innovation’ event, attended by over 150 specialists from across professional practice, academia and business, marked the start of a formal partnership between Bournemouth University and Dorset’s Integrated Care System (ICS), which is a partnership of all NHS and local authorities in the county. As well as hearing from key speakers involved in Dorset health care, the event featured practical examples of how technology is being used to innovate.

Tim Goodson, Chief Officer at NHS Dorset CCG, said: “This partnership will support and strengthen our efforts to improve health care delivery. The event has underlined the steps we are already taking to innovate, from smartphone technology allowing health care professionals to assess patients at home or triage them on arrival in urgent care, to co-designed self-management apps for long term conditions and emerging technologies to diagnose and manage lower back pain. I look forward to working closely with Bournemouth University and seeing the benefits it brings to patient care, now and in the future.”

Professor Tim McIntyre-Bhatty, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Bournemouth University said: “Medical science is a strategic investment area within BU2025, which is the university’s vision and strategic plan that was launched last year. We will see a range of emergent benefits to healthcare in Dorset as we work together with ambitions of supporting a high quality of life for a population that is living longer and wanting to enjoy an active lifestyle. This partnership is an opportunity to think differently and find innovative solutions to regional health challenges that can also inform and lead national and international thinking within medical care and medical science.”

Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard technologies used to train healthcare workers and students in how to monitor and treat patients through virtual reality were demonstrated at the launch. Delegates were able to experience the use of virtual reality technology in orthopaedic operations and see the latest walk-through design of the Living Lab Science Park.

Alongside research areas like assistive technology, new courses are being offered at Bournemouth University in areas like medical science and bio-medical science and a brand new building is currently being built at the university’s Lansdowne Campus, to be the home of the Health and Social Sciences Faculty from September 2020.

Professor Stephen Tee, Executive Dean of Health and Social Sciences at BU, said: “We have a shared focus on working towards better, safer, high quality care for people across Dorset and this partnership recognises the important role digital will continue to play. We are working as part of the wider Wessex network to develop a digital innovation hub to bring together population data at scale. Within Dorset, the Integrated Care System’s digital strategy has a focus on intelligent working as a key enabler and we are excited to be part of this.”

Dr Phil Richardson, Chief System Integration Officer at NHS Dorset CCG and Lead Director for the ICS, said: “The power of working in an integrated way allows us to meet challenges far more effectively by the fusion of education, research and practice. It’s an exciting time for Dorset to see so many senior leaders from local digital innovators to global brands such as Takeda, Capita, GSK, Microsoft, IBM, Apple, Siemens. university experts, NHS and local authorities are working together to make Dorset a healthy place to live and work.”

In achieving greater integration, the partnership aims to collaboratively bid for innovation funding opportunities and improve workforce education, enhancing Dorset’s position as a leading area for research into transformative healthcare nationally.

A video of the launch can be viewed and shared from the Bournemouth University YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/d_Gbwx8hJps