Health and Well Being

Healthy Interaction Image

Health is a domain of immense significance to society, and of great strategic importance. The use of interactive technologies in clinical practice, preventative education and the treatment of chronic conditions has become pervasive. However, there is compelling evidence that current healthcare systems are under-performing: often unreliable, difficult to use, and failing to address the needs of clinicians and patients adequately. Surprisingly little attention has been paid to people's interactions with those technologies and designing effective interactions. The Health & Well Being theme includes research aimed at reducing errors with medical devices; investigating the positive and negative impacts of technology on work-life balance, and supporting those suffering from chronic pain to maintain a regular exercise programme.

CHI+MED: Computer Human Interaction for Medical Devices

PI: Ann Blandford


CHI+MED (Computer-Human Interaction for Medical Devices) is an EPSRC-funded project to improve the safety of interactive (programmable) medical devices, such as infusion pumps. By understanding more about device design and human factors, medical errors can be reduced thus saving lives. Our goal is to learn more about medical devices and how people design, buy and use them in the real world. From this understanding we will investigate how to reduce the likelihood and consequences of human error. We are working with patients and their carers, nurses and other medical practitioners, manufacturers who create medical devices, NHS staff who purchase them and regulatory bodies who oversee patient safety.
In CHI+MED, we are studying the situated use of interactive medical devices, such as infusion pumps, home haemodialysis machines and vital signs monitors, in hospitals and homes. We are also developing new theoretical approaches, based on Distributed Cognition and Resilience Engineering, to the study of these devices.

visit project website...


PI: Yvonne Rogers, Co-I: Ann Blandford, Nadia Berthouze
UCL Steering committee member: Nadia Berthouze

Pervasive Healthcare is focused on working out how to cope with the next generation challenges in healthcare. Addressing these challenges will require expertise and knowledge exchange with countries beyond European borders as well as training of the next generation of researchers in order to gain the expertise necessary to be able to address the upcoming challenges. The objective of this project is to create a research exchange foundation that will equip students from different continents with expertise in Pervasive Healthcare. The knowledge of requirements and available technologies for healthcare will be shared and become complementary between students, researchers and host institutions from Europe and the associated third countries including Mexico, Chile, China and the USA. The exchange foundation will allow students to put this knowledge in use in their own countries, improving healthcare provisioning and impacting on both preventative medicine and alternative means of treatment.

UbiHealth Logo

visit project website...

Pain Rehabilitation: E/Motion-based automated coaching

PI: Nadia Berthouze

visit project website...

Farr Institute

PI: Ann Blandford 

The Farr Institute Logo

The Farr Institute is one of four E-Health Informatics Research Centers funded by the Medical Research Council. The Farr Institute will bring together clinical science, informatics expertise and educational strengths to drive the next generation of population-wide translational research, from discovery through trials to clinical practice, service delivery, patient outcomes and public health. It will drive data integration across clinical conditions, in primary and secondary care, to improve clinical practice and transform the relationship between clinician, patient and citizen and their health data.

visit project website...

The Hearing Body

PI: Ana Tajadura-Jimenez

Hearing Body Picture

The Hearing Body is a project investigating how altering self-produced sounds in real-time may change the sense of one’s body. Systematically induced changes in the sense of one’s body may promote healthy behaviour and social interaction, which are central for enhancing the wellbeing of the general population, given that the sense of one’s body is tightly linked to action-awareness (which actions can I perform with my body?) and self-esteem (how I feel about my body). The Hearing Body will ultimately guide the design of audio-based applications that can improve body-image, self-esteem, movement patterns and social interactions to support wellbeing and rehabilitation for people with movement impairments.

visit project website...


PI: Ann Blanford

ECLIPSE (Exploring the Current Landscape of Intravenous Infusion Practices & Errors) is a research project funded by NIHR (2014-2017) studying medication practices with infusion devices, to document the variety of existing practices and deliver recommendations for best practice in different situations.

For more information visit the project website at www.eclipse.ac.uk

Computational PLatform for Assessment of Cognition In Dementia

PI: Dr SJ Crutch

Cognitive impairment is the hallmark of dementia. Cognitive problems, such as difficulties with memory, language and reasoning, are the most obvious, frustrating and debilitating aspects of most neurodegenerative diseases. As a result, assessment of a person's cognition is a vital component of both diagnostic services and research investigations, and is the most common outcome measure by which the effectiveness of potential pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical therapies is judged. However, many traditional paper-and-pencil cognitive assessments have a number of limitations, including the lack of independence across tests, the qualitative nature of cognitive profiling, the influence of practice effects, a failure to capture some critical aspects of performance, a limited dynamic range, the complexity of some test instructions, and their inability to adequately assess some domains of cognition. Whilst sophisticated computational techniques are now used routinely to analyze neuroimaging data about changes in the shape of the brain, there have been few attempts to use comparable techniques to understand complex cognitive datasets. Here we attempt to redress that imbalance by harnessing engineering, computational statistics and mathematics to improve the cognitive assessment of people with or at risk from dementia. 

The current project aims to develop a computational platform to support substantial improvements in the analysis and visualisation of complex cognitive datasets, and the automatization, optimization and innovation of techniques and devices used to acquire cognitive data. The specific aims of the study represent an interlinked series of engineering solutions to the longstanding cognitive assessment problems highlighted by clinicians. The first set of computational goals are to generate multidimensional cognitive profiles for different dementias by using multivariate machine learning algorithms, and to predict the evolution of cognitive deficits through the implementation of event-based models. The second set of goals relate to attempts to improve existing cognitive tests either by devising ways to measure voice reaction times automatically, implementing psychophysical principles, and utilizing eyetracking to capture additional sensitive metrics of task performance. The third set of goals involve the development of novel testing paradigms including 'instruction-less' tests of cognition suitable for patients with different types and severities of dementia, and the construction of sensors and virtual reality scenarios to measure social cognition.

A critical aspect of the project is the availability of four exceptionally well-characterized, longitudinally studied cohorts of individuals with or at risk of dementia in whom to develop and evaluate the new models and algorithms and pilot the improved and novel testing paradigms. The clinical cohorts include individuals with a Familial Alzheimer's disease gene mutation and their non-carrier siblings, people with typical and atypical variants of Alzheimer's disease including the progressive visual syndrome Posterior Cortical Atrophy, and patients with behavioural or linguistic phenotypes of Frontotemporal Dementia. In addition, data from 500 members of the MRC 1946 Birth Cohort whose cognition has been tracked through life and who are now of an age whereby a proportion will be in the early stages of neurodegeneration will also be evaluated.

The project involves a richly interdisciplinary team with an exciting blend of established collaborations and new partnerships. The work brings together one of the world's leading dementia units (Dementia Research Centre) with three other high profile UCL departments, namely UCL Computer Science, the Centre for Medical Image Analysis, and the UCL Interaction Centre. The experts from these centres will work together with collaborators and patient and carer support groups to improve the study and implement its findings.

Full details can be found here. 

Completed Projects

Healthy Interactive Systems: Resilient, Usable and Appropriate Systems in Healthcare

PIs: Ann Blandford and Harold Thimbleby
Completed 2014

Healthy Interaction Image

The focus of this grant is on "Healthy Interactive Systems in Healthcare", and it is concerned with designing effective user interactions with a variety of systems in healthcare, from the mundane (e.g. infusion pumps) through information systems to novel technologies (e.g. for pain management).  Our current work covers a breadth of topics including projects investigating how videogames can be used to maintain the traditional boundaries between work and personal-life, and how to embed UCD methods in organizations developing Medical Information Technologies.

Visit project website...

Digital Epiphanies

PI: Anna Cox

Completed 2014

The advances in technology in recent years have had many positive effects on the ways in which people can combine work and personal life. For example, being able to access email via a smartphone means that many can work from home, or work a flexible work pattern that successfully fits around caring responsibilities. However, the resulting "always-online" culture in which people expect almost instant responses to email messages, brings stresses and strains to those who feel under pressure to respond immediately and be available on a 24/7 basis.  This project will explore the impact of a range of digital technologies and practices on work-life balance across a range of individuals and households and whether existing technologies can be used to support and enable reflection on technological and work-life practices, and to bring about sustainable changes in practices

Visit project website...

Page last modified on 17 dec 14 13:46 by Rowanne Fleck