‘A Holistic Approach to Health’: Lancaster Health Innovation Campus

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Lancaster Health Innovation Campus (HIC) is a three-stage infrastructure development project from the Faculty of Health and Medicine. SCAN sat down with Professor John Goodacre, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Health and Medicine, to discuss the opportunities that the HIC can bring to both the university and the local community.

The project is co-funded by the University and external bodies such as European Funding and the NHS. The HIC’s activities will be focused around population health.

Lancaster is a relatively young university, and its Health and Medicine faculty even younger, which removes it from the stringency that more traditional medical faculties in the country may be subject to. The HIC’s flexible approach to health, therefore, will perhaps be more likely to address contemporary concerns. The HIC will capitalise on cross-faculty research – what Professor Goodacre calls a “pan-university approach” – with disciplines in business, social sciences, computing, arts and design being involved in the discussion on health.

“Lancaster might be the only university in the world where every department is involved in health research,” says Prof. Goodacre. He later went on to say how maintaining this pan-university approach may present a challenge once the HIC is established.

The HIC will be less focused on treatment and pharmaceuticals, but rather delving to the root of health problems by taking a prevention-based approach. By enabling people to stay healthy, through early diagnosis and by bringing health management tools into local communities, the HIC aims to “take the pressures off the NHS” and address some of the most pressing health problems of the North West, such as smoking, obesity and addiction.
Under the umbrella platforms of Digital Health, Healthy Places, Health Materials and Technologies, People & Organisational Factors in Innovation and Sustainable Healthcare, the HIC will become a “melting pot for driving innovation” and thought leadership.

The HIC will therefore not just become a new faculty building; rather, it will be a means to engage the local Lancashire and South Cumbria communities and increase health outcomes by partnering with local public, private and third sector organisations.

For students, the HIC presents an opportunity for those outside of the Faculty of Health and Medicine to become involved with projects and discussions surrounding population health, whatever their academic background. The Campus will also act as a hub for health start-ups, should students wish to explore the option of entrepreneurship.

Lancaster’s recent accolades have put the institution in the public eye on national and global levels. “We have a civic responsibility as a university”, says Prof. Goodacre, “and the HIC is a vehicle to fulfil it.” Discussions have already begun with Lancaster’s partner campuses in Ghana and Malaysia, as well as colleagues in China, to discuss how the HIC can contribute to international population health issues.

The proof of concept is multi-fold, but most importantly, fits into Lancaster’s ideology of forward-thinking action through teaching and research. The first phase of building will begin this term, and is expected to be completed by 2019. The Health Engagement and Innovation Team will soon be looking for students to actively engage in the development of the HIC; this is an opportunity to witness and co-create how the university’s research and actions have a measurable impact on local, national and global populations.

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