A new computer program that helps people improve their wellbeing in an innovative way has been launched in Hampshire.
Genie has been in development over a number of years by academics, clinicians and software developers based at the University of Southampton.
The pilot work and development of Genie was paid for by an organisation called CLAHRC Wessex which in turn is funded by the research arm of the NHS, the National Institute for Health Research.
Genie works by connecting people to the resources and support in their community, allowing them to choose what activities they like to maintain their health. It has been widely used on the Isle of Wight, where the local authority and NHS have integrated to try to deliver more personalised and patient focused support.
Typically someone will work with a volunteer to identify the people in their social network and place them on a ‘target’ like diagram indicating the importance and closeness of those people to a persons’ life.
They can then choose from a rich database of local support and activities that they feel they would like to take part in. By doing this research has shown that a persons’ social network can become much more diverse, and that in turn supports their wellbeing and in many cases happiness.
It has been identified as an important tool for people living with a numbers of long term health and social conditions, and is being used to study loneliness, mental health, diabetes and MS, to name just a few.
In one instance Genie is being used to study the experiences of young carers.
In March, Genie was officially launched to the public, in front of health commissioners, clinicians, local councils, voluntary organisations, academics and patient groups.
The team behind Genie were able to explain how it works, demonstrate the software and meet with people who could really make use of it.
Doctor Ivaylo Vassilev (seen above), a senior research fellow in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Southampton, explained how with just over a hundred users of Genie it could pay for itself.
Research cited by Professors Anne Rogers and Anne Kennedy shows that Genie can not only save £175 per NHS patient per year, but can enable the patient to have the power to stay well and manage an illness in the way they want. Handing back control of their wellness to them.
With the NHS under increased pressure Genie has the potential to improve the quality of lives for people while helping them to remain well in their community. In one study improved social networks can be shown to reduce the dependency of people with diabetes on family doctors, with patients finding better ways to manage their condition.
Following the launch of Genie the team has been approached by organisations across England looking to learn more and use it in their communities. Already NHS England has recommended Genie to all 15 of its’ Vanguard sites.