My research is focused on developing innovative technologies that empower communities of healthcare professionals and patients to collaborate on a worldwide basis. The development of these collaborative care platforms is being used to investigate what factors can promote and sustain online communities of healthcare providers and patients.
I lead the development new web platform architecture called Alicanto Social Learning platform that can be used for training and care communication between health professionals and patients. The system is being designed to have seamless data interchange between the learning system, collaboration system, consultation system, and clinical data repository. Alicanto has been used for the OPENPediatrics web platform (OpenPediatrics.org) by Boston Children’s Hospital for global pediatric education and the MADCaP Global network (madcapnetowork.org) to support prostate cancer research and education. A new implementation of the system will be used to connect women, midwives, pediatricians and other care providers in a mobile phone-enabled network. The system will be used to train health professionals (pediatricians, neonatologists, nurses, mid-wives). The system is not disease-specific so that it can be adapted for use in other conditions and diseases such as cancer, diabetes and mental health, and coordination of care of elderly.
I am part of the InfoSAGE elder care network project that is investigating the impact of an online platform to connect elders over 75 with their family members for information sharing and care coordination. This study investigates the information needs of elders and their families in order to better understand the challenges for families of communicating and coordinating using online and mobile technologies. We have also developed a medication manager tool for patients and their families and thereby to improve medication management and safety.
I am also investigating the challenges in building global health informatics platforms that can link clinical systems, home care systems, public health systems, community outreach systems to create online coordinated care communities, and to facilitate the collection of data from multiple care providers. I am investigating the challenges of data interchange among countries and patterns of collaboration between clinicians and basic science researchers.
With international collaborators, I am investigating the application of serious games for health. Serious games for health are interactive gaming applications that have the goal to educate and motivate users for behavior change. Applications include patient education, physiotherapy, chronic disease management, simulations, and continuing professional education. I developed the first international course on Serious Games for Health and I have recently published a book on this topicThe course and book provide an overview of the design and evaluation of serious games for health, and the best implementations to date.
Previously, I led the development of the Cure4Kids program with a focus on pediatric cancer and collaboration tools to thousands of healthcare providers worldwide. The Cure4Kids Web site offers a digital research library, on-demand seminars with slides and audio in several languages, and online meeting rooms for international collaborations and communication. Cure4Kids’ online live meeting rooms have enabled international clinical discussions, reduced travel costs, and improved collaborations. The design of Cure4Kids has been used as a model for collaborative platforms being developed by international agencies such as UICC, WHO, and IAEA. My publications have examined the design and evaluation of usage of these systems in low resource settings. I also led development of the Pediatric Oncology Network Database, a secure, web-based, multilingual pediatric hematology/oncology database created for use in countries with limited resources to meet various clinical data management needs including cancer registration, delivery of protocol-based care, outcome evaluation, and assessment of psychosocial support programs. POND serves as a tool for oncology units to store patient data for easy retrieval and analysis and to achieve uniform data collection to facilitate meaningful comparison of information among centers.