Connecting devices and service to track health data
The ecosystem facilitates the development of innovative digital products, connected devices and services that contribute to a Personal Health Environment (PHE) – a website or app where you can keep track of information about your own health. This way you can collect and manage your health data, but also share it with others. Such environments allow individuals to monitor information about their personal health and to work actively on improving it.
The main goal of the ecosystem is to optimise the use of PHEs and empower citizens with their own data, so that they get more insight into their own health. We interviewed Anja van der Heide (UMCG), project manager of the PCH ecosystem.
“In the PCH ecosystem there is a PHE being developed in which citizens can collect all their health-related data and join certain research which is related to health, based on informed consent." Citizens are in charge of these data and can decide on their own terms if they want to share them. The PHE is the fundament of the project and in the ecosystem the parties are challenged to brainstorm together and collaborate on developing new digital tools that connect to a PHE. “The essence of the PCH platform is to optimise the use of PHEs by developing add-ons or E-health apps, so we can have a broader impact,” van der Heide adds.
Generate impact on economic and societal level
One of the goals of the PCH ecosystem is to generate impact on both an economic and societal level. The ecosystem improves the chances of commercial success for PCH applications by bringing relevant parties together to collaborate on projects, or discuss challenges and opportunities. Research results are shared and discussed, and applicable information is distributed during communal expert sessions (Source: PCH website).
Van der Heide elaborates: “From an economic perspective we have indicators like how many small- and medium-sized enterprises have joined the ecosystem or how many jobs does the ecosystem generate. That is one side of the impact. The other side of the impact is on society: how many people are using a PHE or an application linked to the PHE and how usage of these tools can support people in their daily lives. It is not only about sending and sharing information, we also want to pick up ideas and concepts from society, so we can connect those initiatives to our data platform, to developers, app developers or other developers.”
The Healthy Living Room
An idea van der Heide and her team is using The Healthy Living Room – a driving bus where people can do a lifestyle check and have a chat about a healthy lifestyle – as a testing tool to get conversation with citizens started and involve them in the development of apps.
Self-management and health prevention
The tools developed within the ecosystem are not only focussed on patients, they can also be used for health prevention. “Self-management and monitoring of a healthy lifestyle is also one of the focus points. In the PHE people can collect data from their Fitbit or Apple Watch and use those together with data from care institutions to get insights in their own health,” van der Heide explains. “We hope that if citizens have more information about their health data, the conversations they have with care professionals will be more equal; patients will be better informed and able to monitor their health. This is also important in the perspective of a sustainable healthcare system,” she adds.
There are several stakeholders involved in the PCH ecosystem, including the UMCG, Lifelines, Thunderbyte AI, dHealth, EmpowerMi, Inter-Psy and Certe. “One of our new partners is Ancora Health, and we are also working together with the Healthy Ageing Network Northern Netherlands (HANNN) and the Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health,” Van der Heide adds. The ecosystem is also trying to reach communities, therefore they would like to add representatives of patient foundations, municipalities and schools to their network.