The Yorkshire & Humber AHSN are a headline sponsor for this year’s Child Health Technology Conference taking place on 11-12 May and hosted by our partners at the NIHR Children and Young People MedTech Co-operative. This blog by Professor Paul Dimitri, Founder of the CHTC22, discusses the role technology can play in improving the health of children and young people.
Over the last two years, we have witnessed a seismic shift in the use of technology in healthcare. The pandemic forced us to deliver care for the children and young people we look after in novel ways, and has created opportunities and partnerships to continue this work. During this time, problems were amplified and exposed – we have seen a rise in mental health problems in young people, complications from long-term conditions with limited access to support and therapies, an increase in childhood obesity, and health inequalities were starkly exposed. Of particular note, the pandemic exposed a digital divide that threatens future health as we move into an era of digitally enabled healthcare. We must therefore take the opportunity to learn from each other across the globe to understand how we can innovate to develop the most advanced and cost-effective therapies for all children and young people. Developing a global child health technology community will provide the foundation to achieve this goal through sharing experience and expertise.
The UK’s first ever child health technology conference in March last year was a great success, bringing together 238 delegates from 19 different countries attendance including the UK, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Nepal, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, Israel, Canada, and the Netherlands. The excellent feedback we received from delegates inspired us to bring CHT2022 to the child health technology community this year with the help from our sponsors. Our aim is to reach out to the child health technology community across the world, to form a global community with the collective aim of improving the health and healthcare of children and young people through the development of technology.
This year’s impressive speaker line-up reflects the global nature of this emerging community. Delegates will also have exclusive access to the Global Centres of Expertise area of the conference, a dedicated hub live on the virtual platform to access information from all corners of the globe around the latest in child health tech.
Delegates will hear from speakers such as Timothy Chou and Alberto Tozzi from the US and Italy who will look at challenges to developing AI in paediatric medicine. They will introduce their moonshot mission to enable a new generation of paediatric applications based on access to all one million healthcare machines in all 500 children’s hospitals in the world.
Dr Terry Fleming brings expertise in teenage mental health and digital tools in youth mental health all the way from the University of Wellington New Zealand. And Mike English, Senior Research Fellow at KEMRI-Wellcome Trust in Kenya looks at why technically optimised tools often fail to yield benefit and how a much better understanding of the real contexts in which work is done is needed to avoid huge amounts of research waste.
At CHT2022, delegates will also have the opportunity to network after the first day of the conference at our exclusive networking event, with the aim of fostering lively discussion and debate and supporting new partnerships and collaborations.
The National Centre for Child Health Technology
CHT2022 follows the recent announcement that work will start next year on the new National Centre for Child Health Technology (NCCHT) – a world-beating centre to improve child health based at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, UK. NCCHT will bring together experts from industry, health and academia to work with children and their families to support the development of the most advanced digital and technological healthcare in the world.
The impact that we have on the health and well-being of children and young people will have a lasting impact on the future of population health, wealth and prosperity. The NCCHT will provide well equipped spaces with all the support facilities and infrastructure that are needed for high-value job creation and life sciences innovations to be translated into new, high-value products, processes and services that lead to cost savings, significant efficiency improvements, high productivity and sustainable health change in the NHS and beyond.
As part of the world-leading work at the NCCHT, technologies will be developed to provide new solutions to key national strategic priorities in child health including childhood obesity, child and adolescent mental health, cancer, disabilities, long term conditions and prevention.
NIHR Children & Young People MedTech Cooperative
CHT2022 is part of the substantial work of the NIHR Children & Young People MedTech Cooperative to develop technologies to support the diagnosis and management of conditions in children and young people. NIHR CYP MedTech was established in January 2018 as the first paediatric NIHR MedTech and In-vitro diagnostic Cooperative. NIHR CYP MedTech works with clinical teams, businesses, academics, charities, children, young people, and families to support the development and adoption of technology for child health and paediatrics.
NIHR CYP MedTech is hosted by Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and works across seven NHS Trusts, supporting technology development in 7 thematic areas led by key opinion leaders. In the last three years, NIHR CYP MedTech has worked with 123 SMEs and 43 global companies, worked on and supported 173 projects, hosted seven PhD students and leveraged nearly £10 million in funding for child health technology development.
The most rewarding part of the work that we do is seeing the life changing effect that new technologies have on the children we look after.
Our work must never stop. There are 1.8 billion young people in the world today and 40% of the global population is under 24. In the 21st century we have the tools and expertise to develop novel and amazing therapies for the children and young people we care for. We must bridge the digital divide by ensuring that what we do reaches the greatest number of children and young people; and we must listen to the voices of those who we develop technology for. They will provide the insight we need to innovate to meet their needs. Through our global health technology community, let’s work together to innovate for all those children and young people we care for – they deserve the best start and a better future.