In the context of the current change towards sustainable, more digitally supported health, the research governed by the APH Digital Health research program (DH) aims to respond to the needs of our current healthcare system. It does so, by advancing research in the area of health and wellbeing supported by technology and digital innovation.

Digital Health strives to contribute to public health and the clinical healthcare domain by improving the overall health and health equity of all on the macro, meso and micro level. The research program intends to support citizens, patients and patients’ relatives as well as those caring for them. It focuses on how to provide better and more efficient prevention, care and cure; in a way that not only health and well-being, but also autonomy and self-efficacy of patients may be enhanced. Research topics include research on e-health systems and solutions focusing on providing better (preventive) care and cure tailored to person and patient; on provider and situation using digital tools and technology; on (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable – FAIR) data science; on better use of tools such as those exploiting artificial intelligence (AI), virtual and augmented reality, simulation and applied mobile health.

Program support: Nina Zipfel
Contact: aph.digitalhealth@amsterdamumc.nl

We aim to contribute to prevent disease from happening and support those in current need of healthcare by fostering and governing research on development, evaluation and implementation of digital tools and by smart, fair and ethical use of data bringing equity for all. And by doing so, supporting current and future citizens, patients, providers and healthcare systems.

Mission and goals

The APH research program Digital Health catalyzes research in digital health and the implementation of successful findings and instruments in the public health and healthcare domain; aiming to improve health, provision of healthcare and health equity for all.

The goal of the research program is to bring together research from Amsterdam UMC and VU and UvA research partners in the affiliated research programs and institutes; to collaborate with industry, strategic partners and public initiatives focusing on – but not limiting to - the Amsterdam region; shaping the digital landscape in healthcare from both a somatic and mental health perspective. This, to examine, align and safeguard initiatives, in order to propel them and the people fostering them further. This encompasses not only initiatives within APH or the Amsterdam region, as Digital Health is a research program much about crossing regional and scientific/(multi-)disciplinary boundaries. Hence, the research program aims to align with and strengthen relevant initiatives and partnerships in the Netherlands and internationally. The scope embraces research themes in the area of e-health, digital health, (FAIR) data science, AI, virtual and augmented reality, simulation and applied mobile and blended health and care. Our mission is to position the research program, residing under APH, to help achieve the aforementioned goals. Furthermore, our mission is to raise public and scientific awareness on the theme, and build a strong community for further research developments, collaborations and partnerships.

The Digital Health research program is an overarching research program fostering, embedding and bringing together research initiatives – from fundamental to implementation science and participatory action research, from public and preventive to clinical medicine including psychiatry, in the domain of digital health for Amsterdam UMC, affiliated research programs and research institutes . Digital Health aims to contribute to smart, fair and ethical use of data and digital tools to improve both personal and societal health and wellbeing of citizens. This is key not only to futureproof healthcare in terms of access, quality and costs but also to establish a learning, connected healthcare system. Professional and public awareness is on the rise, as is the need for solid evidence on the proposed benefits and risks of 'digital health'. The body of evidence showing the importance of digital health towards health made it become an essential part of the Amsterdam UMC strategy. The movement towards a more personalized health care provision supported by digitalization is reinforced by the implementation program ‘Samen Digitaal’ of Amsterdam UMC. APH has included digitalization as one of their strategic themes, to contribute to overcoming current challenges. Use of digital health strategies may, if well researched and implemented, support the citizen, the patients and their relatives. Also, it may help healthcare professionals to provide better and more efficient care and help healthcare systems to connect with one another and to be sustainable. Impact assessment of digital interventions will be an important topic, to enable early detection of any unintended effects.

The Digital Health research program is rooted in APH and led by a 2-headed Program Leadership. The Leadership is supported by (and part of) the Program Council, with senior board members representing relevant research domains. The Program Council and senior board closely collaborate with the Junior Council and the APH support staff. The research program brings together a community of researchers to collaborate, share, and learn, in order to increase knowledge and skills to improve health and wellbeing of citizens. To this end, we intend to establish a supportive network for the participants, and to provide and support various collaboration opportunities both program-wide and in topical working groups.

Program leaders

Research themes

Digital Health

This overarching theme is dedicated to advance research on e-health, digital tools, platforms, structures and instruments to support, citizens, patients, their significant others and healthcare professionals. Applications of information and communication technology are developed, tested, implemented, and evaluated to be scaled-up both in healthcare and preventive medicine.

Data science

In this theme the capture, processing, and fair application of data, the legal, ethical, societal and scientific insights to support this, and semantic and mathematic algorithms to discover new knowledge from data are researched to advance healthcare provision. This includes research into approaches, methods, and techniques to establish FAIR data and services.

Utilizing Artificial intelligence (AI)

Within this theme, research will contribute to the study of artificial intelligence (and its subsets machine learning, deep learning, and knowledge representation) in healthcare. Research covers advancing and modernizing patient and healthcare professional experiences through the design and application of AI-based tools to optimally utilize medical data and to perform prediction while considering the key aspects of trust and explainability.

Virtual- and augmented reality

This theme concerns research on the use of virtual, mixed and augmented reality within healthcare to support patients and/or healthcare professionals in the clinical and preventive domain. Also, developments in the Metaverse, relating to clinical and educational context of health and healthcare are part of this theme.

Simulation

In this theme the wide range of activities that may contribute to the improvement of safety, effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare provision and training of healthcare professionals individually and / or in teams will be researched.

Mobile health

This theme concerns research on a the use of a wide range of mobile and wireless devices, and technologies that can be connected using e.g., WiFi , Bluetooth or 4/5G networks in healthcare including Ecological Momentary Assessment strategies.

Program council

The Program Leaders of the Digital Health research program chair the Program Council. This Program Council consists of a selection of renowned senior researchers, being professor or PI with own research lines active in the digital health domain. The Program Council meets -at least twice a year - to help implement or update the research program-specific strategy, to foster and help build the program and its initiatives and to discuss anticipatory or reactive response to external events.

Program council members
Dr. Christine Dedding Prof. Ivana Išgum
Prof. dr. Michèle van Vugt Prof. dr. Heleen Riper
Prof. dr. Mark Hoogendoorn Dr. Paul Elbers

Junior council

The Digital Health research program has installed a Junior Council. Ambitious post-docs and PhD-candidates foreseeing a future in digital health provide the Program Leaders and Program Council with solicited and unsolicited advice, may initiate independent activities under the umbrella of Digital Health after consultation of and in good collaboration with Program Leaders to form a strong network; and help in organizing research program-specific activities and events.

Junior council members
Boris Janssen Vacant
Marketa Ciharova Vacant