Dr David Heatley (DFI)

Visiting Professor for e-Health Innovation

Research Directorate

Prof David Heatley has some 35 years of experience in industry-led R&D across a broad range of technology areas.  Of most relevance to his appointment is his experience in the field of e-Health innovation in which he has developed novel ways to use technologies to support clinical procedures, deliver care support over the internet, and enhance the learning experience for trainee health professionals.  He is passionate about seeing technology raise the health of the nation and he is working closely with the University to pioneer the wider adoption of e-Health technologies across the region, as well as introduce their subject matter to degree courses.

The bulk of David’s career was with BT at their world renowned research centre at nearby Martlesham, where he was latterly one of their Chief Technologists.  There his research activities spanned many of the principal telecommunication technologies (cable, mobile and photonics) and how they can be used to deliver innovative new services.  For example, during the 1990s he pioneered Tele-endoscopy with the university’s Prof Duncan Bell, then a consultant physician at the Ipswich Hospital, and together they founded the UK’s first Tele-endoscopy centre at the hospital.  Then during the 2000’s he led the development of novel sensors and data interpretation methodologies for assisted living applications.  That work contributed to trials of new telecare services which, for the first time in the UK, demonstrated how the chronically ill, frail and elderly could be non-invasively monitored and remotely cared for in their own homes over the internet.  More recently he pioneered, again with Prof Bell, a new system that enabled CT and MRI scans as well as planar X-ray images to be viewed and shared between clinicians over the internet.  These clinicians, who could be dispersed across the world in their own institutions, were then able to interact with these scans in a shared virtual environment and combine their expertise highly effectively, ultimately to the benefit of the patient.

While with BT David also pioneered new developments in many telecoms areas, including receivers for the world’s first transatlantic optical fibre telecom cable system, optically powered WiFi cells, free-space optical communications, a new smart trading desk for the London Stock Exchange, office furniture with embedded smart technologies, and many others.  The breadth of his knowledge and experience beyond e-Health is one of the assets he brings to the position.

Since leaving BT in 2009 David has served as Director, Chief Scientist and co-founder of start-up technology companies focussed on e-Health.  His is currently developing a new form a head scanner that enables stroke patients to be scanned and diagnosed at the site of the emergency.  It uses a low intensity radio-frequency beam which ensures that operation of the scanner is fundamentally safe.  When fully developed the scanner will be portable and could be carried in all ambulances and emergency response vehicles.  It could also be widely deployed in hospital emergency departments and high dependency wards, as well as in nursing and care homes where there is a population with an increased risk of experiencing strokes.  The scanner has the potential to shorten the time between the onset of a stroke and treatment being commenced for many stroke patients, thus improving the outlook for those patients and helping to reduce the enormous long-term cost of stroke to the nation’s economy.

David holds a PhD, has authored and co-authored over 80 publications including a book and several chapters for other books, and is accredited with 20 patents.  He is passionate about the learning experience and is delighted to have the opportunity to further that passion though his appointment at the University.