Internet of Things in Health System: International Students Improved Their Skills In ATHIKA Online Training

The massive digital transformation that began in the late 1990s is now taking the next level in smart cities. Entrepreneurs and public administrations are looking for innovative solutions to act more effectively, pay less and use fewer natural and physical resources in different fields. One of the main fields where speed and accuracy is especially needed – the health industry.

Responding to needs, two years ago the impactful project ATHIKA was started. The aim of this EU-funded project is to identify and share real world challenges faced nowadays in the health industry in order to find appreciated and suitable solutions. The experts proposed  a new methodology for Scenarios planning and prepared the online course for future specialists who will be able to use artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), internet of things (IoT) and other smart equipment in the health industry.

In the beginning of this year more than 180 students from Europe joined the online training and gained knowledge in IoT, AI and Ethics and Governance in the eHealth context for a few months. In the first part of the ATHIKA course, named Fundamentals part, an overview of the three previous topics was delivered through a combination of online lectures, readings, videos, quizzes, laboratory assignments and work in groups.

Student Carlota Parés says that one of the advantages of the course was the opportunity to improve her skills of teamwork. Together with other students they proposed solutions to some of the biggest problems of the Spanish health system from remote health monitoring for continuous data collection and analysis to the transformation of areas like a University campus or a city walking network.

They also studied  how by combining technologies like IoT, Big Data, and machine learning they can benefit from a broader knowledge about the evolution of some diseases and reduce the number of doctor visits as well as create more comfortable environments for students.

“As an Engineer with experience in IoT and Machine learning I can say that apart from extending my knowledge on these topics, ATHIKA online training has provided me tools that will allow me to build better technological projects by considering the Ethics & Governance perspective as a major influence in the process of designing innovative solutions that may create a better future for everyone”, says Carlota Parés.

Student Mario Rivas adds one more relevant problem of the health system and shares the solutions how to solve that problem. According to him, the health system is overloaded in a lot of countries. There are very long waits between doctors’ appointments and months for minor interventions. “It can be implemented by automatization of disease diagnosis, telemedicine, automatic prescriptions and other processes to reduce that workload. Then doctors will have less worries and patients will spend less time waiting to be attended”, – says student. In the online course together with the team he tested some ideas on how to make the health system better.

Last part of the ATHIKA course consisted of three different itineraries: IoT, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and Governance and Ethics. All the students needed to select only one itinerary, including more specialized lessons on each of the topics. At the end they also participated in a specific workshop together with external experts from the health industry and public administration.

25 students chose the itinerary of IoT and all of them were divided into small groups (3-4 persons). They were asked as the final assignment to deliver a prototype using all the knowledge acquired during the course, and with the help of mentors from the eHealth Industry and the course teachers. Among the delivered solutions they could find a home remote health monitoring system, virtual reality applied to muscular rehabilitation, a digital health ID so citizens can own their health data and share it for monitoring purposes and an interactive smartphone app to tackle challenges posed by mental health disorders, among others.

Lecturer and researcher Victor Caballero reveals that the most difficult thing for students was feeling comfortable with concepts that they don’t manage. “Complex things as it can be media access protocols are explained in video-pills, presentations and documents where different examples are shown. By this way, with the help of the experts, it was easier to be understood. The easiest for students was enjoying and acquiring the knowledge about real cases through the different examples explained by the experts because they could be identified with the new-brand solutions presented”, says lecturer.

The global IoT in healthcare market size is projected to reach USD 534.3 billion by 2025 expanding at a CAGR 19.9% over the forecast period, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc. Rise in investments for the implementation of IoT solutions in the healthcare sector is one of the key factors driving the market.

As the whole healthcare system has been adapting technological solutions in one way or the other, the ability to use it in all forms has become more and more important. This is the reason why science and business will need to collaborate more in the near future and prepare strong specialists for the health system. And in this line, the ATHIKA project, through its ATHIKA course, expects to contribute in the training of professionals providing them a strong technological background, but without missing the so important humanistic and the industrial points of view.