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The EU funded cross border centre of research excellence in cardiovascular medicine will transform cardiac care in the region by developing new models of care, smart wearable technologies and improved patient monitoring systems.

The Eastern Corridor Medical Engineering Centre (ECME); a cross border centre of research excellence within the field of cardiovascular medicine with partners in Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Scotland has just launched at Ulster University.

Cardiovascular (heart and circulatory) disease causes more than a quarter (26 per cent) of all deaths in the UK; that’s nearly 160,000 deaths each year – an average of 435 people each day or one death every three minutes and in the Republic of Ireland this figure is slightly higher at around 30%.

ECME will see researchers from academia and industry collaborate with partners in the health and social care system to create better models of heart disease care and develop new medical grade wearables and remote monitoring systems to improve clinical outcomes and patient experience.

Innovative medical technology has the potential to alleviate some of the current pressures facing our healthcare system. As waiting lists grow and the demand for hospital beds increases, medical technologies such as smart wearables, user-ready sensor technology and patient monitoring systems can improve diagnostics and patient outcomes and enable patients to live independently.

As well as having a significant impact on health and social care, economic benefits will also follow from the partnership. Working closely with industry and health care professionals, ECME will bring new and innovative products to the market.

Professor Jim McLaughlin, Director of NIBEC at Ulster University said,

“Ulster University has established itself as a global leader in both data analytics, Artificial Intelligence and medical related research. An integral part of our Health Technology Hub, this partnership will create better models for cardiac care through research and the development of generic solutions within the growing patient monitoring market.

Working with our project partners we will develop a cardiac data database to collate and analyse patient information from across the region and better inform decision making at both a clinical and policy level.

Wearable technologies and remote monitoring systems have the potential to transform cardiac care. Smart technologies are helping to move care out of hospital and into the home, reducing pressure on the healthcare system. Our researchers will work to improve existing sensor technologies, point of care diagnostics and monitoring systems to improve clinical outcomes, free up hospital beds, predict patient needs and grow patient confidence and satisfaction.

This partnership is an excellent example of industry, academia and healthcare joining forces to transform patient care and clinical outcomes.”

David McEneaney MD, Consultant Cardiologist at the Southern Health & Social Care Trust said,

“We are excited about the potential impact that the research generated by the ECME project could have on patient outcomes. There have been many innovations in recent years which have transformed how we treat patients and we believe this project will further enhance the well established research collaboration between Craigavon Cardiovascular Research Unit and the academic partners.”

Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body said:

“This is a project which has the potential to positively transform the lives of thousands of people and their families across Northern Ireland, the border region of Ireland and Western Scotland. By increasing the levels of cross-border Research and Innovation within the Health & Life Sciences sector, there is the opportunity to create a strong economic impact, and this is one of the core objectives of the INTERREG VA Programme. This project has great potential and will have a highly significant impact upon how cardiovascular disease is treated on a cross-border basis.”

The centre received 8.2M funding from the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).

ECME is a cross border partnership between Ulster University, Southern Health and Social Care Trust Cardiac Research Unit, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Dublin City University, University College Dublin and the University of Highlands and Islands.