All for one - optimal health care

Full speed ahead, digitization in the health professions for the benefit of patients is advancing at a rapid pace. To ensure that all the necessary experts are on board, Eveline Prochaska networks the professional fields of technology, health science professions and nursing with each other as the City of Vienna funded endowed professor of Healthcare Engineering.

Up till now, students for professions in health care and technology have for the most part been separated. The endowed professorship in Healthcare Engineering promotes togetherness, creates a common understanding for one another and thus enables completely new ideas. "There is great potential at the interface between technology and health," knows Eveline Prochaska. She herself is a computer scientist and developed corresponding curricula. The first lectures were held for the first time in the summer semester. "Students from Health Care and Nursing or from the Health Sciences such as Physiotherapy, Orthoptics, Occupational Therapy, Dietetics, Radiological Technology and Logopedics – Phoniatrics – Audiology should acquire expanded digital skills. On the technical side, Applied Electronics and Clinical Engineering are currently mainly involved."

Much easier than expected!

Digitally supported technology can contribute to an improved quality of care in many areas. Using digital tools and being able to teach patients how to use them is of great importance. However, many young people only have superficial experience and therefore lack the imagination of what is possible. “When we create the link between digital technology and their own professional field in the lectures, the inhibition threshold falls and the first step is taken,” says Prochaska happily.

Make ideas sparkle

In occupational therapy, smaller aids, such as handles to unlock the front door, can be produced very easily using 3D printing. The effort is low and the aid is individually adapted to the patients’ abilities, which are constantly changing during the therapy. Eveline Prochaska has already developed a number of prototypes, such as the digitized nine-hole peg test. Occupational therapists use it to measure aspects of hand function in patients after an injury or, for example, after a stroke. The prototype takes over error-prone tasks such as timing, saves data and makes an automatic comparison with standard measured values. Ideally, interdisciplinary projects will arise in the future during the lectures or also for bachelor’s and master’s theses.

Healthcare Engineering – a multidisciplinary discipline for everyone

The results should also be disseminated outside of the university and thus further encourage the linking of specialist knowledge from different professions. “With the endowed professorship, I would like to anchor multidisciplinary thinking and cooperation more firmly and inspire others to do the same,” says Eveline Prochaska about her goals. “I wish for my students that they become doers and carry on the future spirit of digitization.”