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Virtual doctor for older people in chronic pain could save NHS thousands, Ipswich conference told

PUBLISHED: 16:29 09 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:29 09 November 2017

Suffolk County Council leader Colin Noble speaking at the Ageing Well in Suffolk conference. Picture: ABDUL RAZAQ

Suffolk County Council leader Colin Noble speaking at the Ageing Well in Suffolk conference. Picture: ABDUL RAZAQ

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A professor researching how technology can help older people to live well was among the guest speakers at a health conference in Ipswich.

Addressing an audience at Wherstead Park today, Patricia Schofield spoke about the work she is carrying out through the Positive Ageing Research Institute at Anglia Ruskin University.

She said: “Our aim is to address age-related issues and improve quality of life and foster independence for older people.

“We need to be creative and innovative about how we look after our older population and with that we are going to see a decline in the younger population so we can’t rely on families to care for out older population.”

The team has developed an interactive virtual doctor called Chatbot, which can be used via a computer, tablet or mobile phone and helps older people to self-manage chronic pain.

Professor Schofield said Chatbot could save the NHS £26,000 per patient if it kept them out of long-term care for one year.

She added: “We have tested this with a number of focus groups across south London and Chelmsford and the feedback we are getting from the older people is they would be happy to use this system, they like it, they can cope with, it’s easy to understand and it’s not something they are fearful of.”

Other speakers at the ‘Ageing Well in Suffolk’ conference included Suffolk county councillors Tony Goldson and Colin Noble, Louise Lafortune from Cambridge Institute of Public Health, and Natalie Turner of the Centre for Ageing Better.

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