Centre for Pervasive Healthcare
The term Pervasive Healthcare was born in the Aarhus region about six years ago. It covers the application of ubiquitous computing technology (pervasive computing) to support healthcare services. Pervasive Healthcare contributes to making healthcare services available to the population and to healthcare providers anytime and anywhere, thus giving individuals - and their families - the possibility of playing a much more active role in their own healthcare. Pervasive Healthcare is part of the IT effort within the healthcare sector that is expected to generate the largest business growth in the next decade, namely pervasive computing. To realise the potential for both better healthcare and business growth, it is necessary to involve a wide spectrum of academic disciplines. This ranges from computer science, health science, engineering, design and the humanities to social studies and business understanding.
In 2002 the Centre for Pervasive Healthcare, CfPH, was established in the ICT City of Katrinebjerg in Aarhus. The centre was founded by the University of Aarhus in cooperation with the Alexandra Institute on the basis of research conducted by the IT council of the Aarhus region. During the past five years, the centre has produced results for the benefit of clinics, science and industry through cross-disciplinary cooperation and user participation.
CfPH has gradually extended the cross-disciplinary cooperation through research projects to much benefit for the academic field. Therefore, CfPH already has good experience of establishing cross-disciplinary environments that involve for example industries, clinicians, citizens, patients/relatives, computer scientists, architects, anthropologists - and most recently engineers.
All research and development activities in CfPH are therefore based on a high degree of user involvement
– also known as participatory design.
Pervasive Healthcare is based on user-driven innovation, and the ideas of the users of healthcare services (staff, patients and citizens) constitute the nucleus of the effort.
Based on the explorations already conducted, a picture emerges of a number of interesting projects and focus areas with a particular high potential. The focus areas we have identified are:
The hospital of the future
Modern ICT opens up entirely new possibilities for internal cooperation at a hospital. To mention some examples, wards and staff can easily be updated on the status of activities on which they depend, they can communicate with others no matter where they are, and they can use equipment that is not physically nearby.
ICT can thus optimize workflows and processes and establish a basis for an ongoing organizational development that breaks down the barriers set by the physical framework.
Homecare and coherent patient follow-up
With modern ICT the relationship between the hospital and the patient’s home and workplace can be organized in entirely new ways, thus enabling a far better continuity for the patient before, during and after hospitalization. A large number of project proposals already exist, which will enable better communication between patients, relatives, hospital wards and out-patient clinics.
Stay longer in own home – “Independent living”
Modern ICT also makes it possible for the elderly to stay longer in their own home and have a long and active life with the support of family, friends and healthcare professionals. With the use of for instance sensor-based surveillance in the home, an elderly person can both monitor his/her own health and request assistance from for instance a nurse, a GP or an emergency service.
Within acute medicine the technological development (especially wireless technology) has created a wide range of possibilities for better healthcare effort and therapy. As a result of the so-called Palcom project at the ICT City a number of prototypes have been developed, which will greatly improve both rescue effort and patient safety in connection with accidents - especially accidents that happen far away from the major hospitals.
Recent years have seen a surge in the number of chronic patients. With modern ICT it is possible to offer preventive care at a much earlier stage, for instance through early identification of persons at risk. Furthermore, treatment plans can more easily be adapted to individual needs and a much bigger proportion of the healthcare effort can be carried out in the patient’s home.
There is a significant unutilised potential for improving equipment for the disabled through user-driven innovation. The region’s user-driven project, User-driven Innovation – Better Equipment for the Disabled, will result in major new developments in the form of four specific subprojects. CfPH can help to develop the ideas and concepts from these projects into concrete product and service prototypes and can also facilitate commercialisation.
The interaction between new sensors and wireless technology clears the way for a wide range of new opportunities within medico, for example regular surveillance of equipment, better preventive maintenance, and overview and localisation of equipment.