Published on November 7th, 2013 | by Rebecca Cain

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Why WMG Started a Healthcare SIG

What does a manufacturing research group have to do with healthcare? Plenty, as you may well discover.

For a non-medical department, WMG has an impressive number of researchers working in healthcare. Our healthcare research covers a diverse range of themes, including design, materials, business, manufacturing and systems.

Many may be surprised with how involved a manufacturing group like WMG is in healthcare, but we are quite well positioned, in that we already have large flagship research projects in the area. WMG’s Institute of Digital Healthcare (IDH) focuses its research on innovative digital technologies for healthcare, but also across the group we have a wealth of other researchers working on healthcare-related projects from the design of hospital environments through to 3D printing of bone tissue.

Also, given the breadth of the research in WMG we also have other researchers who may not yet be working in healthcare, but whose work could be applied to this sector. Rather uniquely, and helped by our multi-disciplinarity, we’re able to apply learning from one sector into another. For example, our Experiential Engineering group has utilised techniques previously used to engineer the engine sounds of premium vehicles, to improve the soundscape of a hospital ward.

With multi-disciplinary working and partnerships at the core of what we do in WMG, plus a growing portfolio of healthcare research, we decided to start a new initiative to informally bring together all researchers interested in healthcare research in WMG – principally with the aim of creating new research opportunities and partnerships. So about 6 months ago, WMG launched its Special Interest Group (SIG) for healthcare.

WMG’s Healthcare SIG now provides a multi-disciplinary networking platform for sharing healthcare research across our group. Researchers of all levels are welcome, from PhD students to Professors. We meet informally once a month, over a networking lunch with discussions and contributions from speakers.

Our early meetings have been about sharing what we’re working on, our challenges and what we’d like to do in the future. We have heard about the challenges facing orthopaedic knees and hips; the opportunities for digital technology to open up design opportunities between patients and hospital staff, and the potential for sensing just about anything on the body to aid our health and wellbeing. The challenges facing healthcare research are diverse – both from a technological and a human perspective, but these are areas which WMG research is well-positioned to tackle.

As our healthcare community becomes more established and links are being made, we are actively looking to catalyse new collaborations across WMG, particularly as new funding opportunities present themselves. Ideally these will focus on innovation, exploitation, commercialisation and creating impact on business, policy and the community.

We also welcome participation from industry to help inspire and guide our research agenda, so do get in touch if you are interested in finding out more.

by

Rebecca Cain leads the Experiential Engineering Group at WMG. Her research aims to improve people's experiences of spaces, places, products and services through better design to change behaviour. Her core research interests are the involvement of users in the design process, and the methods to do this; understanding the relationship between design and emotional response in users; and understanding how design can lead to behaviour change.

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