future view

Using personalization to make digital health more successful

18 November 2016 • 1 min reading time

Digital health interventions, or ‘digital health’, are seen as the Holy Grail of effective and sustainable health and healthcare. They enable users to manage their own health and to make autonomous, informed choices. TNO is developing techniques to improve the design of digital health applications, to boost their effectiveness and uptake.

Digital health interventions can help patients and healthy individuals to better understand health and disease. They can motivate and support people who are dealing with lifestyle changes or disease management, by reminding them of their goals or appointments, or when to take their medication. They also help to monitor people’s progress. In addition, they can provide insight into personal risk factors. Moreover, healthcare professionals, policymakers and scientists can benefit from the data and findings gathered by health applications.

Triggering behavioural improvements

As yet, however, we are not making the best possible use of digital health. That requires both technical and practical innovations. TNO has identified four areas that are critical to efforts to boost the impact of digital health. These are personalized design, valid and reliable predictive models, advanced data profiling, and safeguarding the privacy and security of data.

“Digital health’s lukewarm success is mainly a design issue”

The white paper entitled ‘Digital health: increasing the impact with personalized design’ focuses primarily on the personalized design of digital health interventions. Improved designs can boost the effectiveness and the uptake of digital health, thus triggering behavioural improvements in users. “Digital health’s lukewarm success is mainly a design issue,” says Pepijn van Empelen, one of the white paper’s authors. “Digital health interventions are often static and text-based. As time passes, they are unable to adapt the information and support they provide to match the user’s development. In addition, they are often unable to adapt to different populations. Moreover, these are often stand-alone applications. Many users soon drop digital health completely. This is, of course, a situation that you really want to avoid. In short, most digital health interventions are either not personalized enough or are not personalized at all. This is why we are developing the technologies and knowledge needed to improve personalized design.”

Would you like to know more about personalized digital health? If so, then download the white paper.

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