Tailoring your health education

Tailoring your health education

24. september 2008

Much of today's health education is not targeting your personal needs, and you may be lost on the Internet looking for health information. But in a few years...

In a few years, you will have a system that teaches you how to improve your own health, based on your specific needs.

You can find advice on healthcare and treatment just about anywhere. The Internet, email, TV and by SMS - there seems to be no limit to the amount of information available. But then again, there could be too much and the information you find is not necessarily suited to meet your specific needs.

"Research shows that personalized health education can help you improve your own health and manage your diseases better. That is why we are developing a solution that is flexible and adaptive to the changes in the patient health and not just designed for a specific disease," explains PhD student Luis Fernandez Luque at Norut Tromsø.

Designing for flexibility

Luis moved from the south of Spain to work on MyHealthEducator, which is a part of a larger TTL-project MyHealthService. MyHealthService integrates several services like telerehabilitation and personal health diaries, and the service MyHealthEducator will use data from these other services, collected for example by body sensors, to provide the user with suggestions on how to manage his or her health.

"If you have Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure or diabetes, then chances are that you will in time acquire other types of disease more easily, especially if you don't have a healthy lifestyle.

Then you need health advice that fits your specific situation. MyHealthEducator will do just that by giving personalized advice based on the patient's health information, integrated in his or her own Personal Health Record that is stored in MyHealthService," Luque says.

What is more, the types of services that can be offered through this system will be designed so that any add-ons can be installed remotely through the Internet. In other words, the whole system does not have to be reconfigured by an engineer to meet changes in the patients' health situation.

Testing mobile solutions

So far, the overall project MyHealthService has used a stationary computer with an Internet connection, using the TV as the screen. But Luis and the rest of the team behind MyHealthService don't feel restricted by the confines of a stationary box. Luis explains:

"We don't want these services to be attached to just one type of hardware. That is why we are now testing to see if we can use mobile Open Source platforms like Nokia's Ultra Mobile PC to work together with it to support mobility. It would be smaller - and available wherever you want to use it," he says in closing.

Luis Fernández Luque's PhD will be finished in the autumn of 2011, and the project partners are Northern Research Institute Tromsø (Norut Tromsø), The Norwegian Centre for Telemedicine, The University Hospital of North Norway and the Norwegian Health Net.

Contact information

Luis Fernández Luque, telephone +47 934 21 287 and e-mail luis.luque@norut.no