In the area of mHealth, we focus on various aspects of using mobile technologies in medical contexts. This includes research related to medical applications (apps), but also covers so called smartdevices such as smartphones, tablet pcs, smart glasses as well as smart watches and smart glasses.
Our aim is to contribute towards safe use of mobile technologies in medical and health related contexts that can benefit all stakeholders, i.e. patients as well as medical professionals. While not downplaying the potentials mobile technologies offer for medicine, this also includes raising awareness of possible pitfalls and problems users may come across when employing such technologies.
Among others, our research covers the following topics:
- Ethical and legal aspects, reliability and trustworthiness of apps: There are numerous medical apps, but relevant information about their limitations and dangers is rarely available, which makes it hard for users to decide whether they can trust an app or not. Statements provided within the various app stores can easily be manipulated and only a small number of apps have undergone private certification or regulatory procedures as they are required for medical products. A special focus in this context is therefore the development of standardized tools (aka checklists) that may help manufacturers to provide adequate information about their product and users to assess the available information in order to enable them to decide whether they can place their trust in the product they are interested in.
- Quality and cost effectiveness, patient participation: Providing app based support for patients as well as healthcare providers in various sectors (outpatient and inpatient treatment, rehabilitation) may increase quality as well as cost effectiveness of various processes in healthcare. Patients can, who traditionally often passively endure diagnostic procedures and treatments can be transformed into active participants within the care process.
- The use of mobile apps for (continuing) medical education has various potential benefits. For example, in cases where it is impossible to integrate real patients into the curriculum, either due to ethical considerations or due to unavailability of patients, mobile apps that make use of augmented reality can offer an alternative. Such apps make it possible to still provide a realistic learning experience while actively integrating learners in the learning process.
- Identification and differentiation of additional fields of using smart devices and apps in medical and health related contexts.
- Identification and differentiation of potential problems that may arise when using mobile devices in medical contexts, e.g. related to hygiene.
Focus of research
Beside dealing theoretically with the ethical and legal aspects of using mobile devices and the accompanying applications, we also take a close look at practical issues and various apps are being developed within our mHealth related projects to evaluate and refine the hypotheses we generate.