eHealth

This is a broad, cross-cutting and transdisciplinary line of research that primarily addresses the following areas:
  • The design, implementation and evaluation of digital solutions for the prevention, promotion and improvement of people's health.
  • The development of digital solutions (tools and/or methodologies) for professionals and patients, directed towards improving the effectiveness, efficiency and safety of existing interventions.
  • The study of organizational dynamics, state of health and well-being.
Specific thesis projects offered within of this line of research include the following:
 

Thesis Proposals

Researchers

Research Group

Digital transformation of health and care

Digital health solutions have generated huge expectations as a way to reduce healthcare costs, since they have the potential to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare organizations, as well as the quality of the services provided. However, their use in day-to-day clinical practice is still limited. It is well known that the success of ICT use in healthcare is understood as the compatibility between clinical ICT systems and physicians' tasks, ICT support for information exchange, communication and collaboration in clinical practice, and interoperability and reliability. In this vein, we will be working on the following areas:

  • Understanding the factors that explain healthcare professionals' use of information and communication technologies (ICT), and the range of interconnection between clinical practices and digital devices and forms of information, and as well as the ways they are used in people' private lives.
  • Understanding the role that the structure of healthcare organizations, tasks, people policies, incentives and decision-making processes play in explaining how medical professionals overcome challenges in using ICT.
  • Understanding the effect on the nature of the doctor-patient relationship, the status of health informatics and also the effect hardware/software providers have on medical professionals' ICT use.  
Dr Francesc Saigí-Rubió I2TIC

Competencies in eHealth for health professionals

eHealth is a relatively emerging field that brings together technology, public health, medical informatics and numerous other disciplines. Traditionally speaking, academic curricula for health-related degrees scarcely include specific training in eHealth. Therefore, health professionals need to find alternative lifelong training strategies to sustain their continuous professional development. We asked ourselves what e-health competencies health professionals need to provide optimal care.
 
Therefore, we aim to:
  • Analyse the eHealth competencies addressed in undergraduate and post-graduate curricula worldwide.
  • Pinpoint the different competencies needed according to the professional role in question.
  • Identify the eHealth competencies that health professionals need in specific settings.
 

Dr Carme Carrión Ribas

 

Dr Marta Aymerich Martínez

eHealthlab

Pain and virtual reality: using immersive technologies to relieve pain

Pain is a universal phenomenon that is sometimes seen as a public health issue, but which is primarily considered to be a medical problem. Traditional approaches involve pharmacotherapy. However, attention has now turned to virtual reality (VR) as a non-pharmacological alternative; for example, using VR as a distraction during medical diagnoses or painful therapeutic procedures. Indeed, VR has proven to be effective in reducing procedural pain, even in patients such as burn victims who undergo extremely painful procedures, as well as for helping with physical therapy. Additionally, unlike pharmacology, it presents only mild and infrequent side effects. However, despite promising results, further research is required to validate these findings and define optimal clinical parameters for its use. Moreover, further studies should also be concerned with hardware and software systems that are able to provide the greatest distraction at the lowest cost and adapt to the specific needs of each patient and pathology. VR is rapidly evolving and thus provides new solutions that should be used to tackle the problems being faced by researchers.

Dr Pierre Bourdin Kreitz

Dr Rubén Nieto Luna

DARTS

eHealth Lab

Assessing eHealth interventions

In recent years, we have seen the health sector revolutionized by the use of mobile applications (apps), sensors, wearables and other tools that have empowered patients and allowed health professionals to master health management. These are key elements in health intervention, but due to their novelty, there is not yet enough evidence supporting their validity, efficacy, security and effectiveness.

Therefore, our goals are as follows:

  • Define and develop frameworks, methodologies and tools to assess eHealth interventions.
  • Develop eHealth interventions for tackling any health condition.
  • Design decision-making support systems to empower citizens and health professionals.
  • Broaden our knowledge on implementing eHealth intervention processes and scaling them up.
  • Analyse the elements that enable eHealth interventions to have a greater social impact.

Dr Carme Carrion Ribas

Dr Marta Aymerich Martínez

 

eHealth Lab

Information and communication technologies (ICT) applied to pain and other chronic diseases

Pain and chronic conditions are pressing issues and have an enormous impact on our society. There is also no doubt that there are very few services offering care (based on available evidence) for people that suffer from such conditions. We are working in this line with the following aims:

As you can see, we are working on several projects, but we are open to any other innovative ideas in the field. We are also accepting proposals for ICT interventions for other chronic diseases not necessarily related to pain. In sum, we welcome any ideas you may have.

Dr Rubén Nieto Luna  eHealth Lab

Covid -19 and Teleworking

COVID-19 poses a new challenge for our society, as do the different measures that have been adopted in order to combat and limit its spread. Of the measures taken, confining people to their homes (lockdown) and limiting their movements have been the most noteworthy and have led to an increase in teleworking. The most recent data show no signs that the situation will improve in the immediate future, so society will have to live with the pandemic and the different measures in place in the short, medium and perhaps long term.
Teleworking has been shown to cause a change in healthy habits and stress management and an increase in certain chronic pain problems. 
 
For this reason, we are working to design a project to help people maintain healthy habits and better manage stress and chronic pain. The aim is provide them with the resources they need through the use of a help bot. 
 
This is an interdisciplinary project involving different universities, research centres and health services. Do not hesitate to contact us for more details. 
 
Dr Rubén Nieto Luna eHealth Lab

Use of eHealth and mHealth in psychooncology

Cancer is a very unique disease that poses a great many challenges for patients and their relatives. For this reason,  psychological support is key in helping patients to overcome the difficulties that accompany a diagnosis and the subsequent treatment, some of  which may be chronic. 
 
Due to increasing cancer incidence rates and the fact that certain patients may need support in complex situations, new technologies are being increasingly relied upon.
 
For this reason, we are interested in strengthening research in this area through a collaboration between Dr Tania Estapé from FEFOC and the UOC. We are open to hearing ideas from potentially interested students.
 
Dr Rubén Nieto Luna eHealth Lab
Memory and Virtual Reality
Use of immersive technologies for studying Memory
 
Virtual Reality (VR) and more generally immersive technologies offer interesting modalities to study Memory.
 
They are particularly interesting to objectively assess memory because it allows to control the environment surrounding the participant and observe his/her behaviour in the simulation.
 
This is very convenient to study spatial memory, but VR can also be used to characterize episodic memory including memory for central and perceptual details, spatio-temporal contextual elements, binding, as well as memory encoding, memory perspective and memory training.
 
Evolution of the VR field is very fast, providing new solutions that can be used to resolve some problems researchers are facing.
 
Dr Pierre Bourdin DARTS