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LifeGuide

LifeGuide: How online innovation in healthcare is already making a difference

Pioneering research into how Internet technology can help in conditions as varied as eczema, obesity and the management of stress were recently showcased at a seminar at the University of Southampton.
The LifeGuide project, led by Professor Lucy Yardley, Head of the Centre for Applications of Health Psychology, enables researchers and practitioners with no prior knowledge of computer science to use innovative software to support their healthcare and wellbeing initiatives. The unique system can provide tailored information to patients, send them email and text messages, evaluate results and much more. It has attracted £15million of external funding over the past five years and early findings have been published in The Lancet.

Researcher Ingrid Muller works on SPaCE, an online information project for parents of children with eczema. "Parents are very busy people and it can be difficult for them to find the time to talk to healthcare professionals during the day," she explains. "We've found they often access the information late at night. Feedback from the pilot project has been very good."

Using smart phone technology to provide interactive advice for people trying to lose weight or deal with stress is the core of the UBHave project. Researcher Leanne Morrison says: "After a successful pilot with University of Southampton students, our research now involves workplaces in the North East of England."
Professor Lucy Yardley and her research team have already worked with GPs in six countries, supporting them to create online resources for their patients. Other applications the team has developed are helping people stop smoking and cope with conditions including stroke, cancer, diabetes, dizziness and pandemic flu.

Paul Little, Professor of Primary Care Research at the University of Southampton says LifeGuide is proving to be a valuable tool in many areas. "Through this unique software, we can deliver tailored advice and interventions to patients with many conditions, the potential value of this technology is enormous," he says.
The interdisciplinary collaboration between medical practitioners, social scientists and computer scientists, has just been awarded an additional grant of £2million from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to develop an online system for people with hypertension to monitor their blood pressure and manage their condition; a similar intervention will cover asthma.

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