Health and Welfare Technologies are focus areas for research and innovation. The reason is a global trend for ageing societies, resulting in more people in need of services while at the same time a shortage of healthcare professionals is predicted. The technological solutions that are suggested (e.g. social robots, monitoring equipment, etc) are usually developed focusing on the technological possibilities. Studies show that there is a lack of evidence that these technologies are actually effective because they are often developed without input from users and stakeholders. We suggest a different approach that starts from the actual practices that users, staff, and stakeholders are involved in. This facilitates identifying where technology could make a difference with the main focus on increasing quality of life.
We are an interdisciplinary team that brings together engineers, designers, social scientists, health care personnel, management, residents and their relatives in research and development projects with long-term perspectives.
Central feature of our approach is the focus on the classical participatory design goal of mutual learning between all participants (researchers, residents, staff, management, relatives) and during all phases of the development. Thus, we rely on the expertise, knowledge, and active participation of staff and residents, as they are the experts in their daily work and living practices and know best, where and how technology could make a difference. On the other hand, we are the experts in interaction analysis, design, and engineering and will provide the tools to let these ideas come to life.
This process always starts with identifying opportunities for technological development. To this end we rely on a mix of different methods and tools like ethnographic studies, observations, cued video recalls, workshops, etc. It continues with the design and fabrication of prototypes and a constant refinement in field trials.
Our aim is to build technology together with the involved users and stakeholders (and not only for them), thus taking the goal of mutual learning seriously and empowering our users to become an active part in shaping their future well-being in the health care sector.