Our first few years will partly focus on the development of the centre itself while, in parallel, our research program will be developed in close collaboration with external stakeholders represented in the advisory council, such as clinicians and various representatives of healthcare organizations, patient organizations and the industry.
Our starting point is the research currently executed by the three partner organizations TNO, Universiteit Twente and Universiteit Maastricht. A substantial amount of research is already related to the three main themes in the program: diagnostics (theme 1), monitoring (theme 2) and coaching/treatment (theme 3). For each of these themes an R&D roadmap will be developed to help steer the research agenda. Researchers will be linked to each other and, where possible, get involved in one another’s projects. Each new project will have to comply with three criteria: scientific relevance and quality, clinical/practical/patient relevance and economic potential.
A first analysis shows that many studies focus on COPD. These may cover areas such as diagnostic procedures in distinguishing patients with COPD, asthma and even lung cancer (theme 1), the (self-)monitoring of physiological parameters in daily life (theme 2) and new coaching approaches without the need for direct professional intervention (theme 3). Besides COPD there is a great deal of research into methods for monitoring the functioning of the (frail) elderly at home, including early-stage dementia. Here the focus is on intelligent monitoring technologies (theme 2) and providing remote support to the elderly and their informal carers, including ‘serious gaming’ and other new motivation-enhancing techniques (theme 3). The state of the art in this field does not yet allow for fully established and market-ready devices, so more research will be the aim during the first 2-3 years.
After this initial period the program will be broadened towards devices supporting people with chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and devices enabling point-of-care diagnosis of acute and potentially life-threatening inflictions. An exciting and very challenging new area will be the development of robotic systems and other intelligent actuators near the patient. This will be taken up by CCTR after the first 4-5 years.
This program broadening process requires high-quality research and collaboration with partners outside the present CCTR consortium, either in the Netherlands or elsewhere in Europe as well as other parts of the world including the US, Japan, India and China.