Tech ‘ecosystem’ launched to connect South West health and care


A new technology hub has been launched in the South West to enable greater connection and collaboration across the region.

The South West Interdisciplinary Technology Consortium for Health and Care (SWITCH) will act as an “ecosystem” for NHS, industry, health and social care organisations and patient groups.

Launched by the University of Plymouth with support from the South West Academic Health Sciences Network, the hub will be a base to share challenges and provide technical solutions to help ease pressure on services.

Patients, carers and health and social care professionals from Somerset to Cornwall will be able to use SWITCH to highlight the problems they face, while local businesses, researchers and funders look to develop and build potential solutions.

Dr Arunangsu Chatterjee, associate professor of digital health and education at the university, said: “We want to ensure that everyone in the South West has the best possible access to the technology, or means of creating new innovations.

“Through SWITCH we intend to consolidate our regional offer through a single front door for industry, researchers and investors looking for partners, infrastructure and expertise.

“We are proud to be involving University researchers from science, arts and healthcare in SWITCH, but we want it to be self-sustaining and act as a go-to innovation enabler for service users, funders and the local businesses who can help.”

Professor Ray Jones added: “The South West, which is one of the remotest parts of Britain, contains five out of the 10 UK areas with the highest proportion of over 65s.

“With an ageing population, our region is well placed to lead in the creation of projects that might help ease pressures on services. And if SWITCH continues as we hope, it could be an exemplar of digital healthcare internationally.”

The launch follows the success of the University’s similar EPIC and IHA projects, which are running in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and Devon.

The projects, funded by the European Regional Development Fund, have already seen initiatives like Amazon Echo Spots being used in Cornish care homes, allowing them to impact on the people who need it most.

SWITCH will be part of the European Connected Health Alliance (ECH Alliance), and linked to the wider Digital Health Ecosystem Network across the globe, with groups sharing internationally-recognised technologies and data standards.

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