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Suffolk and North East Essex to trial “doctor-at-home” for heart failure patients

8 Jul 2021 1:00PM

Following the launch of the new Integrated Care Academy (ICA), hosted by the University of Suffolk, the ICA is proud to announce its part in an international research project to develop artificial intelligence (AI) to help support older people at home in rural communities who are living with chronic heart failure.

Working with the University of Suffolk and the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), the ICA and partners in the UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Ireland and Switzerland have secured €3.9 million research grant for this ground-breaking initiative.

The research project, which launches this month, will work with older heart failure patients in Suffolk and north east Essex to test a round-the-clock virtual therapy assistant via your mobile phone. The phone app, which is called DoctorME, uses artificial intelligence and gaming technology to create a friendly on-screen character that can give healthcare advice and check your condition. For example, the virtual therapy assistant can check your blood pressure and heart rate, advise on the right dose of medication and confirm when your condition has stabilised. It can answer questions and guide you on how to act in certain situations.

Professor Chantal Ski, Director of the Integrated Care Academy, said “I am really pleased that we have the opportunity to run this clinical trial in Suffolk and north east Essex. Older people in isolated rural areas sometimes have more challenges with heart failure than others. It is not always easy to get quick access to support. The early proof of concept work with the DoctorME phone app shows that people find the app reassuring. As they learn more and gain confidence with their condition, they can stay well and avoid having to hospital.

“We have high hopes of the outcomes of this trial for both patients and our local health and care workforce. The capability of the system is amazing. Over time, as data is regularly recorded about your heart failure condition, the system learns, as well as you, about your particular needs and how to manage your condition.”

A short video explaining the DoctorME phone app is available at



University of Suffolk Press Office