digital health

Symposium - Role of activity monitors in adopting an active and healthy lifestyle

Symposium at UK's Open University's campus in Milton Keynes 

Over the last two years, a team of researchers at The Open University (OU) has been investigating the role of activity monitors in socialisation and in improving the wellbeing of people aged over 55 years, of carers, and of people being cared for. Activity monitoring technologies such as those from Fitbit, Garmin and Samsung help to track activity, exercise, food, weight and sleep.  

In the digital health wearables event on 16 January 2018, we will showcase the results of this two-year research programme funded by Sir Halley Stewart Trust and the ESRC Impact Acceleration Award. In addition, speakers from public health and industry, and users of these technologies will discuss their views and future directions these technologies and similar digital health wearables will take in supporting active and healthy ageing, in caring, and in self-monitoring of health.  

Research programme website: http://www.shaileyminocha.info/digital-health-wearables/ 

Agenda of the Symposium

Opening keynote by Rohit Ail, Samsung UK - Health Innovation and European Union's ActiveAge Project

Presentations by the OU team, users/participants of our research programme (Bob Strudwick and Phil Warburton of Age UK Milton Keynes) and Trudy Hosker, Public Health Practitioner, Public Health, People Directorate, Milton Keynes Council

Closing keynote by Tina Hurst, Active Insights

Project team

Academics: Dr. Duncan Banks (OU), Dr. Kate Hamblin (Oxford University) Dr. Caroline Holland (OU), Dr. George Leeson (Oxford University) Ms. Catherine McNulty (OU), Professor Shailey Minocha (OU) and Dr. Ana-Despina Tudor (OU)

Collaborators: Age UK MK (Jane Palmer, Bob Strudwick and Phil Warburton), Carers MK (Sue Bowering and Robert Benn) and Samsung UK and the ActivAge project (Rohit Ail, Ahmad Bangesh and Qian Shen)

Research Managers: Louise Thomas (OU) and Katia Padvalkava (Oxford University)

Further Information

If you would like to know more about the symposium or receive a summary of the symposium's proceedings, please contact us via the comments on this blog-post

 

Investigating the role of wearable activity-tracking technologies in the well-being and quality of life of people aged 55 and over

Photos from our workshops taken by Dr. Duncan Banks, The Open University, UK

Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded project

In this Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded project on digital health wearables for people aged over 55 years (May 2016 - July 2017) and in collaboration with Age UK Milton Keynes (MK) and Carers MK, our aim was to investigate whether and how wearable activity-tracking technologies can acceptably contribute towards self-monitoring of activity and health by people aged over 55.

Example technologies include trackers from Fitbit, Garmin and Samsung, and smart watches. Typically, these devices record steps walked, sleep patterns, calories expended and heart rate.

Through our empirical investigations, we have identified:

  • challenges for adoption of these technologies;
  • the need to design for age-related impairments (e.g. vision, hearing, memory, dexterity);
  • concerns related to data management, security and data privacy;
  • positive behavioural changes of using activity monitoring devices, and, in general;
  • the role of digital health wearables in caring, self-management of health, post-operative monitoring of mobility, and for monitoring movement and locations in conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Report

A preliminary and brief report of the project is now available: pdf report

Citing this report: Minocha, Shailey; Banks, Duncan; Holland, Caroline; McNulty, Catherine and Tudor, Ana-Despina (2017). Investigating the role of wearable activity-tracking technologies in the well-being and quality of life of people aged 55 and over. Report submitted to Sir Halley Stewart Trust, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.

The views expressed in this report are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Trust who funded this project.

Project Team

Dr Duncan Banks,  Dr Caroline Holland, Ms Catherine McNulty, Professor Shailey Minocha and Dr Ana-Despina Tudor, The Open University

Mrs Jane Palmer, Age UK Milton Keynes

Mrs Sue Bowering and Mr Robert Benn, Carers Milton Keynes 

ESRC Impact Acceleration Award

Ageing population, retaining independence of older people, support to carers, and using internet-enabled technologies to transform healthcare services are some of the national concerns. We are now involved in a multi-way knowledge-exchange (KE) programme (April 2017 - January 2018) through an ESRC Impact Acceleration Account Award to set up dialogues with/between key stakeholders including manufacturers for improving the design of digital health wearables for older users, carers and medical professionals.

Call for participation of manufacturers: Activity trackers for older people, carers and people being cared for

Photos from our workshop with carers and manufacturers on 16 June 2017 (courtesy: Dr Duncan Banks, The Open University, UK)

Project

The Open University (OU), UK, in collaboration with Oxford University, Age UK Milton Keynes and Carers Milton Keynes, is involved in a research programme related to digital health wearables for older people, carers, and people being cared for. 

The research programme consists of two projects. 

  • The first project was funded by Sir Halley Stewart Trust and a poster based on the research carried out on one of the strands of this project is here
  • The details of the second ESRC-funded project in this research programme are in this pdf. This project is focussed on knowledge exchange with a variety of stakeholders including manufacturers of digital health wearables.

Workshop on 16th June 2017

As a part of the ESRC-funded project, we organised a multi-stakeholder workshop with 16 attendees involving the project team, carers and manufacturers on 16th June from 10 am to 13:15 at the OU's campus in Milton Keynes.

The aim of this workshop was to link up the requirements and expectations of older people, carers and people that we have collected so far in the Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded project, with manufacturers and policy makers in a multi-way knowledge exchange. Our (the research team's) objective  is to influence the usability and service design of digital wearables for older people, carers and people being cared for based on the evidence that we have consolidated in our empirical research

Series of multi-stakeholder knowledge exchange workshops

This workshop is a part of series of workshops that we will be organising on this project until the end of this year. 

Are you a manufacturer of digital health wearables?

If you are a manufacturer of digital health wearables and would like to participate in one of our workshops, please do contact us by email: digital.health.wearables@gmail.com or shailey.minocha@open.ac.uk

Could an app replace a trip to the doctor?

Babylon and Machine learning

There have been news reports this week on an app replacing a trip to the doctors: an app with a robot doctor that can triage, diagnose and even treat individuals over their phones. Some of these are:

Babylon puts a doctor in a machine, BBC Technology  

Babylon raises £50m to perfect its AI Doctor, CITY A.M.

Babylon raises $60m to build AI doctor to diagnose illnesses, Financial Times, FT.com

Our response

Our response to these news items and based on our ongoing research on the use of digital health wearables for self-monitoring and self-management of health is available here:

Could an app replace a trip to the doctor?

ESRC Impact Acceleration Account Award

Photo:  Workshop at The Open University's campus in October 2016.  The participants (people aged over 55 years) came in to discuss their experiences of using the activity monitoring trackers  (Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded project)

Photo: Workshop at The Open University's campus in October 2016.  The participants (people aged over 55 years) came in to discuss their experiences of using the activity monitoring trackers (Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded project)

We have received funding from an ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) in a partnership between The Open University (OU) and University of Oxford for our project: Designing Wearable Activity Monitoring Technologies that work well for Older Users and Carers (Project reference: 1702-KEA-282). The project will run from April 2017 to January 2018.

Wearable activity monitoring technologies include, for example, trackers from Fitbit, Garmin and Samsung, and smart watches. Typically, these devices record steps walked, sleep patterns, calories expended, or heart rate and their functionality is increasing. Given the UK’s ageing profile and as part of the agendas of Active and Healthy Ageing and digital NHS, there is an increasing focus on maintaining health in later life and encouraging physical activity to preserve mobility and motor skills, and self-monitoring of health and medical conditions. 

The ESRC IAA project aims to produce a multi-way knowledge-exchange between key stakeholders for improving the design of activity monitoring technologies (and digital health wearables, in general) for older users, carers and medical professionals. The stakeholders will comprise of: academia; industry (manufacturers of digital health wearables); statutory and voluntary groups such as Bucks Vision, Dementia Friends; older people and carers through Age UK MK and Carers MK; and OU’s partnerships with medical networks.

Our focus will be to build on and exploit recently gathered user-based evidence (from our previous Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded project) on the functionality, usability and accessibility of  wearable technologies, the accuracy and reliability concerns of stakeholders, and ethical considerations of data-usage. We gathered this evidence through user engagement on the role of wearable activity monitoring technologies in the health and well-being of people aged 55 years and over in the Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded project - trialling devices with a group of older users and conducting surveys and workshops with multiple stakeholders: carers, people aged over 55 years, and medical and healthcare professionals.

Our practitioner partners on this ESRC IAA project are: Age UK Milton Keynes, Carers Milton Keynes and Samsung, UK.

The academic team consists of: Dr Duncan Banks, Dr Caroline Holland, Ms Catherine McNulty, Professor Shailey Minocha and Dr Ana-Despina Tudor of The Open University; and Dr Kate Hamblin and Dr George Leeson of The Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, University of Oxford. The project will be managed by Ms Louise Thomas of The Open University.

Digital health wearables for the person being cared for: a survey

Sleep patterns shown on the dashboard of the digital health wearable (photo courtesy: Dr. Duncan Banks)

We would like to know about your perceptions of using digital health wearables for monitoring the health and activity of the people you care for. It is not necessary for you to have used such devices for the people you are caring for to participate in this survey. Your inputs will help us to understand how similar health wearables could be effectively used if they became a part of healthcare: caring, monitoring and self-management of health.

Our current focus is on activity trackers (e.g. wrist-bands from Fitbit or Jawbone, or smart watches from Apple or Samsung), which track daily fitness levels such as heart rate, sleep patterns, or calories expended.

As a part of the Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded Digital health wearables project (http://www.shaileyminocha.info/digital-health-wearables/) at The Open University, UK, we are running a survey: please visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/health-wearables-for-the-person-being-cared-for or http://bit.ly/2iN4YSd to participate in this survey.

The survey will take 6-8 minutes to complete it.

Since these devices are not yet designed to accurately analyse data from wheel-chair usage, if you could fill up this survey only if you are caring for somebody who is mobile and not wheel-chair bound.

The university’s Human Research Ethics Committee has approved the project’s research design. If you have any queries about the project or this survey, please contact Professor Shailey Minocha: shailey.minocha@open.ac.uk

PhD Studentships - Health and Wellbeing Pathway: ESRC Grand Union Doctoral Partnership

The Open University, UK, from:  http://bit.ly/2hqHMVS  under the   Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic   license

The Open University, UK, from: http://bit.ly/2hqHMVS under the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license

There are full-time and part-time PhD studentships available at The Open University, UK as a part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Grand Union Doctoral Partnership.

The details of studentships are available here

This webpage on University's website has links to descriptions for each of the six research pathways. In the description of Health and Wellbeing pathway, there is a strand on Ageing and Later Life and also some cross-cutting themes.  If you are interested in the Ageing and Later Life strand and these cross-cutting themes listed below, please contact me:

  • digital health literacy,
  • role of wearable activity monitoring technologies and digital health wearables in self-management and self-monitoring of health and in remote healthcare,
  • design of digital healthcare technologies for older people,
  • role of social networking platforms in addressing the social isolation and loneliness in older people,
  • role of virtual reality in healthcare, and
  • digital (medical) education initiatives for healthcare staff through simulations in virtual reality and 3D virtual worlds.

Our related ongoing Sir Halley Stewart-funded project on digital health wearables for older people is described here

We have an ongoing PhD project related to digital health literacy: 'Digital health literacy for older people: Investigating the motivations, challenges and experiences.'

This web-page and the blog on this website have further details/resources on our projects/initiatives related to the themes listed above.  

The deadline for applying for studentships is 20 January 2017.

Activity trackers and people aged over 55 years

Digital Health Wearables workshop on 14 October 2016,  pictures courtesy Professor Shailey Minocha and Dr. Duncan Banks

Digital Health Wearables workshop on 14 October 2016, pictures courtesy Professor Shailey Minocha and Dr. Duncan Banks

We organised the fourth workshop of the Sir Halley Stewart Trust funded Digital Health Wearables project at The Open University on 14 October 2016.

As discussed in our blog-post dated 9 October 2016, we are recording the experiences of 21 participants who are using activity trackers as a part of this project. The activity trackers are from Fitbit (e.g. Fitbit Alta, Fitbit HR), Microsoft (Band 1 and 2), and Misfit Shine. The workshop-discussions since June 2016 have uncovered a number of challenges people over 55 years experience with using the activity-trackers - from opening the packaging, accessing the instructions/manuals online, and to discovering the features of the device. 

We are investigating how the behaviours of our participants is changing – whether there is an increase in their activity such as walking or gardening, lifestyle changes, attitudes towards food/diet, and so on. How do they do how much of physical activity (and number of steps) is optimal for them (age; medical conditions, if any; etc.)? Does an increase in physical activity help towards the loneliness that people experience in later life? In addition, we have been eliciting their perceptions about sharing of the data with family, friends, carers and medical professionals. 

As discussed in this news item of our project, the wider implications of this project are in determining how digital health wearables can be used for self-monitoring and self-management of health by older people, and for remote-monitoring of specific conditions such as Parkinson's. 

Use of data from fitness trackers in medical consultations

Are you a doctor or healthcare provider? Do you come across data from fitness trackers such as from Fitbit etc. in your consultations?

Activity data on the dashboard in the iPad App of the wearable (pictures courtesy: Dr Duncan Banks, The Open University, UK)

About the project

Our research project at UK’s Open University and in collaboration with Age UK Milton Keynes aims to investigate whether behaviour changes in people aged over 55 years through the use of wearable activity-tracking technologies. Example technologies include those from Fitbit, Jawbone, or smart watches from Apple or Samsung.

We have launched a survey that is aimed at medical professionals to explore whether they use the data from these devices for diagnosis and intervention. Most importantly, do medical professionals use data from these devices to determine the behaviour or lifestyle changes in people aged over 55 years?  


Call for participation in the survey

As a medical professional we would like to know about your perceptions of using digital health wearables in medical consultations, diagnosis and treatment. Our focus is on wearable fitness devices which track daily fitness levels (e.g. wrist-bands from Fitbit or Jawbone, or smart watches from Apple or Samsung). 

As a part of the Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded Digital health wearables project at The Open University, UK and in collaboration with Age UK Milton Keynes, we are running a survey: please visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/role-in-medical-consultations or http://bit.ly/2cPr852 to participate in this survey. It will take 3-5 minutes to complete it.

The project's research design has been approved by University's Human Research Ethics Committee. If you have any queries about the project or this survey, please contact Professor Shailey Minocha, The Open University: shailey.minocha@open.ac.uk 

Use of digital health wearables by people aged over 55 years: A survey

Picture courtesy: Dr Duncan Banks, The Open University, UK

As a part of our Sir Halley Stewart Trust funded Digital Health Wearables project and in collaboration with Age UK Milton Keynes, we (The Open University team) have launched a survey aimed at people aged 55 years and over to elicit their experiences of using activity monitoring devices such as FitBits or using the health and activity monitoring features on smart watches (e.g. from Apple, Samsung).

The survey enquires about the device they use the most (in case they have more than such a device): challenges in using the device; advantages towards well-being and quality of life; privacy and ethical aspects about data-sharing; usage of the data for self-monitoring/self-management, or for alerting medical professionals or their family. 

The survey is available at:  https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/health-wearables-over-55years-age-choices-effects or http://bit.ly/2bwfpEW (shortened version of the link). It will take 6-8 minutes to complete the survey.

The project's research design has been approved by University's Human Research Ethics Committee (reference HREC/2015/2191/Minocha/1).

If you have any queries about the survey, please contact Shailey Minocha of The Open University, UK: shailey.minocha@open.ac.uk

Many thanks.

Survey on the use of digital health wearables

Do you use digital health wearables or activity trackers such as wrist-bands from Fitbit or Jawbone, or smart watches from Apple or Samsung, or a smart ring or bracelet? 

As a part of the Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded Digital health wearables project at The Open University, UK (http://www.shaileyminocha.info/digital-health-wearables/), we would like to know about your experiences of using such devices for monitoring your health and/or self-management of your health and the criteria that you used when you were considering the device(s) for yourself. 

Please visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/health-wearables-choices-effects to take part in an online survey related to this project. It will take 6-8 minutes to complete the survey. 

The project's research design has been approved by University's Human Research Ethics Committee (reference HREC/2015/2191/Minocha/1).

If you have any queries about the survey, please contact Shailey Minocha of The Open University, UK: shailey.minocha@open.ac.uk

Many thanks.

Award from Sir Halley Stewart Trust

Our project 'Investigating the role of wearable activity-tracking technologies in the well-being and quality of life of people aged 55 and over' has received funding from Sir Halley Stewart Trust

Picture courtesy: https://flic.kr/p/mw795j

Picture courtesy: https://flic.kr/p/mw795j

The project will investigate the challenges that the older people may experience: being adverse to these technologies as they may highlight their lifestyle; not having the digital skills to make an optimal use of these devices; or not being comfortable about sharing the data with others. 

We will investigate the ethical issues: whether the data that is collected is ethically used by the family to remotely monitor their loved ones and to pick up any health care concerns; and how this data might be used by medical professionals to facilitate timely clinical interventions. 

We will evaluate how usable these devices are to promote behaviour change, or influence the likelihood of long-term adoption: challenges associated with making sense of the data that is provided by these devices; does the data encourage people to be more active, exercise more, eat more healthily, or to quit smoking or drinking? 

Project team: Jane Palmer, Age UK Milton Keynes, Shailey Minocha, Duncan Banks, Caroline Holland, Catherine McNulty and Alice Peasgood from The Open University.