NHS to trial the use of smart meter data for mental health patients

The Government has recently announced that later this year the NHS will be running a trial to access how data from smart meters could help monitor at-home mental health patients.

Computer scientists at Liverpool John Moores University conducted research to help identify how data obtained from household meters could provide insight and aid mental health patients.

The aim of the research was to see how information on energy usage can be interpreted by artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms and intelligent machines to check on housebound patients.

Dr Carl Chalmers and Dr Paul Fergus who led the research wanted to identify whether the technology could learn, adapt and perhaps even accurately detect unusual occurrences in household appliances.

The University and Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust launched further research to compare cognitive assessments with the way patients use energy and appliances in their home.

Moving forward, the idea is that a machine learning medical team would be able to pinpoint ‘relapse indicators’, for example when a patient stays in bed for longer than usual, such as three days in a row.

In future trials, the technology could act as a traffic light warning system and notify a patient’s carer whenever unusual behaviour is detected.

The Government has highlighted that this research could have an added healthcare benefit for household smart meters in the UK.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said: “Being able to monitor a patient at home with their consent shows how innovative technologies enabled by smart meters can improve many aspects of our lives, not just our energy use.”

“This kind of technology has the potential to change someone’s quality of life, and their families’ lives, for the better by helping patients with long-term conditions stay at home and remain independent for longer,” BEIS said.

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