Center Advisors, Emerging Technologies & Data Analytics Core

Tobias Kowatsch, PhD

Associate Professor for Digital Health Interventions, University of Zurich (UZH); Director, School of Medicine, University of St. Gallen (HSG); and Scientific Director, Centre for Digital Health Interventions, UZH, HSG and ETH Zurich

Digital Health Interventions; Digital Clinical Pathways; Digital Coaching; Biomarkers; Design Science Research

Contact

Tobias Kowatsch, PhD
Associate Professor for Digital Health Interventions, University of Zurich (UZH); Director, School of Medicine, University of St. Gallen (HSG); and Scientific Director, Centre for Digital Health Interventions, UZH, HSG and ETH Zurich

tobias.kowatsch@uzh.ch


Dr. Tobias “Tobi” Kowatsch is Associate Professor for Digital Health Interventions at the Institute for Implementation Science in Health Care, University of Zurich and Director at the School of Medicine, University of St. Gallen. He is also the Scientific Director of the Centre for Digital Health Interventions, a joint initiative of the Institute for Implementation Science in Health Care, University of Zurich, the School of Medicine, University of St. Gallen, the Institute of Technology Management, University of St. Gallen, and the Department of Management, Technology and Economics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland.

In close collaboration with his interdisciplinary team and research partners, Tobias designs digital health interventions (“Digital Pills”) at the intersection of information systems research, computer science and behavioral medicine. He helped initiate and participates in the ongoing development of MobileCoach, an open-source platform for ecological momentary assessments, health monitoring and digital health interventions. He is also co-founder of the ETH Zurich and University of St. Gallen spin-off company Pathmate Technologies that creates and delivers digital clinical pathways.

Tobias has a PhD in Management from University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, a Master of Science in Business Information Systems from Saarland University, Germany and a Master of Computer Science in Media from Hochschule Furtwangen University, Germany. He published his research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (JCCP), American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies (IMWUT), JMIR mHealth and uHealth, Journal of Asthma & Allergy, Addictive Behaviors, Information Systems Journal (ISJ), and Computers in Human Behavior (CHB).

Hobbies include hiking and music.

Tobias’ Google Scholar page


Selected Publications
  • type-published
    1664236800
    9
    2022
    Jacobson N, Kowatsch T, Marsch, LA, editors. Digital therapeutics for mental health and addiction: The state of the science and vision for the future. 1st edition. Academic Press; 2022 September 27. Paperback ISBN: 9780323900454.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1646956800
    3
    2022
    Schlieter H, Marsch LA, Whitehouse D, Otto L, Londral AR, Teepe GW, Benedict M, Ollier J, Ulmer T, Gasser N, Ultsch S, Wollschlaeger B, Kowatsch T. Scale-up of digital innovations in health care: Expert commentary on enablers and barriers. J Med Internet Res. 2022 Mar 11;24(3):e24582. doi: 10.2196/24582. PMID: 35275065.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1643673600
    2
    2022
    Nißen MK, Selimi D, Janssen A, Rodríguez Cardona D, Breitner, MH, Kowatsch T. & von Wangenheim F. See you soon again, chatbot? A design taxonomy to characterize user-chatbot relationships with different time horizons. Computers in Human Behavior. 2022 Feb; 127:10704.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1641513600
    1
    2022
    Keller R, Hartmann S, Teepe GW, Lohse KM, Alattas A, Tudor Car L, Müller-Riemenschneider F, von Wangenheim F, Mair JL, Kowatsch T. Digital behavior change interventions for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes: Systematic market analysis. J Med Internet Res. 2022 Jan 7;24(1):e33348. doi: 10.2196/33348. PMID: 34994693; PMCID: PMC8783286.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1639958400
    12
    2021
    Bérubé C, Kovacs ZF, Fleisch E, Kowatsch T. Reliability of commercial voice assistants' responses to health-related questions in noncommunicable disease management: Factorial experiment assessing response rate and source of information. J Med Internet Res. 2021 Dec 20;23(12):e32161. doi: 10.2196/32161. PMID: 34932003; PMCID: PMC8726026.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1632787200
    9
    2021
    Teepe GW, Da Fonseca A, Kleim B, Jacobson NC, Salamanca Sanabria A, Tudor Car L, Fleisch E, Kowatsch T. Just-in-time adaptive mechanisms of popular mobile apps for individuals with depression: Systematic app search and literature review. J Med Internet Res. 2021 Sep 28;23(9):e29412. doi: 10.2196/29412. PMID: 34309569.
    View Source
  • type-inpress
    1629849600
    8
    2021
    Lukic Y, Klein S, Brügger V, Keller O, Fleisch E, Kowatsch T. The impact of a gameful breathing training visualization on intrinsic experiential value, perceived effectiveness, and engagement intentions: Between-subject online experiment. JMIR Serious Games. 08/08/2021:22803.
  • type-published
    1625788800
    7
    2021
    Stasinaki A, Büchter D, Shih CI, Heldt K, Güsewell S, Brogle B, Farpour-Lambert N, Kowatsch T, l'Allemand D. Effects of a novel mobile health intervention compared to a multi-component behaviour changing program on body mass index, physical capacities and stress parameters in adolescents with obesity: A randomized controlled trial. BMC Pediatr. 2021 Jul 9;21(1):308. doi: 10.1186/s12887-021-02781-2. PMID: 34243738; PMCID: PMC8266630.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1624492800
    6
    2021
    Mishra V, Künzler F, Kramer JN, Fleisch E, Kowatsch T, Kotz D. Detecting receptivity for mHealth interventions in the natural environment. Proc ACM Interact Mob Wearable Ubiquitous Technol. 2021 Jun;5(2):74. doi: 10.1145/3463492. PMID: 34926979; PMCID: PMC8680205.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1621987200
    5
    2021
    Gross C, Schachner T, Hasl A, Kohlbrenner D, Clarenbach CF, Wangenheim FV, Kowatsch T. Personalization of conversational agent-patient interaction styles for chronic disease management: Two consecutive cross-sectional questionnaire studies. J Med Internet Res. 2021 May 26;23(5):e26643. doi: 10.2196/26643. PMID: 33913814; PMCID: PMC8190651.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1619740800
    4
    2021
    Mönninghoff A, Kramer JN, Hess AJ, Ismailova K, Teepe GW, Tudor Car L, Müller-Riemenschneider F, Kowatsch T. Long-term effectiveness of mHealth physical activity interventions: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Med Internet Res. 2021 Apr 30;23(4):e26699. doi: 10.2196/26699. PMID: 33811021; PMCID: PMC8122296.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1617321600
    4
    2021
    Banholzer N, Feuerriegel S, Fleisch E, Bauer GF, Kowatsch T. Computer mouse movements as an indicator of work stress: Longitudinal observational field study. J Med Internet Res. 2021 Apr 2;23(4):e27121. doi: 10.2196/27121. PMID: 33632675; PMCID: PMC8052599.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1616976000
    3
    2021
    Bérubé C, Schachner T, Keller R, Fleisch E, V Wangenheim F, Barata F, Kowatsch T. Voice-based conversational agents for the prevention and management of chronic and mental health conditions: Systematic literature review. J Med Internet Res. 2021 Mar 29;23(3):e25933. doi: 10.2196/25933. PMID: 33658174; PMCID: PMC8042539.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1614038400
    2
    2021
    Stanger C, Kowatsch T, Xie H, Nahum-Shani I, Lim-Liberty F, Anderson M, Santhanam P, Kaden S, Rosenberg B. A digital health intervention (SweetGoals) for young adults with type 1 diabetes: Protocol for a factorial randomized trial. JMIR Res Protoc. 2021 Feb 23;10(2):e27109. doi: 10.2196/27109. PMID: 33620330.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1614038400
    2
    2021
    Stieger M, Flückiger C, Rüegger D, Kowatsch T, Roberts BW, Allemand M. Changing personality traits with the help of a digital personality change intervention. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Feb 23;118(8):e2017548118. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2017548118. PMID: 33558417; PMCID: PMC7923371.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1613952000
    2
    2021
    Kowatsch T, Lohse KM, Erb V, Schittenhelm L, Galliker H, Lehner R, Huang EM. Hybrid ubiquitous coaching with a novel combination of mobile and holographic conversational agents targeting adherence to home exercises: Four design and evaluation studies. J Med Internet Res. 2021 Feb 22;23(2):e23612. doi: 10.2196/23612. PMID: 33461957; PMCID: PMC7939948.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1613520000
    2
    2021
    Kowatsch T, Schachner T, Harperink S, Barata F, Dittler U, Xiao G, Stanger C, V Wangenheim F, Fleisch E, Oswald H, Möller A. Conversational Agents as mediating social actors in chronic disease management involving health care professionals, patients, and family members: Multisite single-arm feasibility study. J Med Internet Res. 2021 Feb 17;23(2):e25060. doi: 10.2196/25060. PMID: 33484114; PMCID: PMC7929753.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1612742400
    2
    2021
    Lukic YX, Shih CI, Hernandez Reguera A, Cotti A, Fleisch E, Kowatsch T. Physiological responses and user feedback on a gameful breathing training app: Within-subject experiment. JMIR Serious Games. 2021 Feb 8;9(1):e22802. doi: 10.2196/22802. PMID: 33555264; PMCID: PMC7899808.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1611878400
    1
    2021
    Schachner T, Gross C, Hasl A, V Wangenheim F, Kowatsch T. Deliberative and paternalistic interaction styles for conversational agents in digital health: Procedure and validation through a web-based experiment. J Med Internet Res. 2021 Jan 29;23(1):e22919. doi: 10.2196/22919. PMID: 33512328; PMCID: PMC7880814.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1607904000
    12
    2020
    Tinschert P, Rassouli F, Barata F, Steurer-Stey C, Fleisch E, Puhan MA, Kowatsch T, Brutsche MH. Nocturnal cough and sleep quality to assess asthma control and predict attacks. J Asthma Allergy. 2020 Dec 14;13:669-678. doi: 10.2147/JAA.S278155. PMID: 33363391; PMCID: PMC7754262.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1606953600
    12
    2020
    Rassouli F, Tinschert P, Barata F, Steurer-Stey C, Fleisch E, Puhan MA, Baty F, Kowatsch T, Brutsche MH. Characteristics of asthma-related nocturnal cough: A potential new digital biomarker. J Asthma Allergy. 2020 Dec 3;13:649-657. doi: 10.2147/JAA.S278119. PMID: 33299332; PMCID: PMC7721277.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1598918400
    9
    2020
    Rüegger D, Stieger M, Nißen MK, Allemand M, Fleisch E, Kowatsch T. How are personality states associated with smartphone data? European Journal of Personality 34(5) Special Issue: Behavioral personality science in the age of big data, 687-713 10.1002/per.2309.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1596758400
    8
    2020
    Tudor Car L, Dhinagaran DA, Kyaw BM, Kowatsch T, Joty S, Theng YL, Atun R. Conversational agents in health care: Scoping review and conceptual analysis. J Med Internet Res. 2020 Aug 7;22(8):e17158. doi: 10.2196/17158. PMID: 32763886; PMCID: PMC7442948.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1594684800
    7
    2020
    Barata F, Tinschert P, Rassouli F, Steurer-Stey C, Fleisch E, Puhan MA, Brutsche M, Kotz D, Kowatsch T. Automatic recognition, segmentation, and sex assignment of nocturnal asthmatic coughs and cough epochs in smartphone audio recordings: Observational field study. J Med Internet Res. 2020 Jul 14;22(7):e18082. doi: 10.2196/18082. PMID: 32459641; PMCID: PMC7388043.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1588723200
    5
    2020
    Haug S, Paz Castro R, Scholz U, Kowatsch T, Schaub MP, Radtke T. Assessment of the efficacy of a mobile phone-delivered just-in-time planning intervention to reduce alcohol use in adolescents: Randomized controlled crossover trial. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2020 May 26;8(5):e16937. doi: 10.2196/16937. PMID: 32452818; PMCID: PMC7284414.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1585872000
    4
    2020
    Hauser-Ulrich S, Künzli H, Meier-Peterhans D, Kowatsch T. A smartphone-based health care chatbot to promote Self-Management of Chronic Pain (SELMA): Pilot randomized controlled trial. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2020 Apr 3;8(4):e15806. doi: 10.2196/15806. PMID: 32242820; PMCID: PMC7165314.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1584403200
    3
    2020
    Kramer JN, Künzler F, Mishra V, Smith SN, Kotz D, Scholz U, Fleisch E, Kowatsch T. Which components of a smartphone walking app help users to reach personalized step goals? Results from an optimization trial. Ann Behav Med. 2020 Jun 12;54(7):518-528. doi: 10.1093/abm/kaaa002. PMID: 32182353; PMCID: PMC7291330.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1576022400
    12
    2019
    Shih I, Tomita N, Lukic Y, Hernández Á, Fleisch E, Kowatsch T. Breeze: Smartphone-based acoustic real-time detection of breathing phases for a gamified biofeedback breathing training. Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies (IMWUT). 2019 Dec 11; 3(4): Paper 152 10.1145/3369835.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1575158400
    12
    2019
    Künzler F, Mishra V, Kramer JK, Kotz D, Fleisch E, Kowatsch T. Exploring the state-of-receptivity for mHealth interventions. Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies (IMWUT) (Ubicomp), 3(4)#140, December 2019. doi:10.1145/3369805.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1574208000
    11
    2019
    Kowatsch T, Otto L, Harperink S, Cotti A, Schlieter H. A design and evaluation framework for digital health Interventions. it – Information Technology. 2019 Nov 20; 61(5-6): 253-263.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1548979200
    2
    2019
    Kramer JN, Tinschert P, Scholz U, Fleisch E, Kowatsch T. A cluster-randomized trial on small incentives to promote physical activity. Am J Prev Med. 2019 Feb;56(2):e45-e54. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2018.09.018. PMID: 30553693.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1546819200
    1
    2019
    Tinschert P, Rassouli F, Barata F, Steurer-Stey C, Fleisch E, Puhan MA, Brutsche M, Kowatsch T. Prevalence of nocturnal cough in asthma and its potential as a marker for asthma control (MAC) in combination with sleep quality: Protocol of a smartphone-based, multicentre, longitudinal observational study with two stages. BMJ Open. 2019 Jan 7;9(1):e026323. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-026323. PMID: 30617104; PMCID: PMC6326321.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1540166400
    10
    2018
    Presset B, Kramer J, Kowatsch T, Ohl F. The social meaning of steps: User reception of a mobile health intervention on physical activity. Critical Public Health. 2018 Oct 22.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09581596.2020.1725445.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1536019200
    9
    2018
    Stieger M, Nißen M, Rüegger D, Kowatsch T, Flückiger C, Allemand M. PEACH, a smartphone- and conversational agent-based coaching intervention for intentional personality change: study protocol of a randomized, wait-list controlled trial. BMC Psychol. 2018 Sep 4;6(1):43. doi: 10.1186/s40359-018-0257-9. PMID: 30180880; PMCID: PMC6123904.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1504224000
    9
    2017
    Paz Castro R, Haug S, Kowatsch T, Filler A, Schaub MP. Moderators of outcome in a technology-based intervention to prevent and reduce problem drinking among adolescents. Addict Behav. 2017 Sep;72:64-71. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2017.03.013. PMID: 28371696.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1496361600
    6
    2017
    Kramer JN, Kowatsch T. Using feedback to promote physical activity: The role of the feedback sign. J Med Internet Res. 2017 Jun 2;19(6):e192. doi: 10.2196/jmir.7012. PMID: 28576757; PMCID: PMC5473947.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1496188800
    5
    2017
    Wahle F, Bollhalder L, Kowatsch T, Fleisch E. Toward the design of evidence-based mental health information systems for people with depression: A systematic literature review and meta-analysis. J Med Internet Res. 2017 May 31;19(5):e191. doi: 10.2196/jmir.7381. PMID: 28566267; PMCID: PMC5471345.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1485907200
    2
    2017
    Haug S, Paz Castro R, Kowatsch T, Filler A, Dey M, Schaub MP. Efficacy of a web- and text messaging-based intervention to reduce problem drinking in adolescents: Results of a cluster-randomized controlled trial. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2017 Feb;85(2):147-159. doi: 10.1037/ccp0000138. PMID: 27606700.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1483228800
    1
    2017
    Tinschert P, Barata F, Kowatsch T. Enhancing asthma control through it: Design, implementation and planned evaluation of the mobile asthma companion. In Leimeister JM, Brenner W. (Hrsg.): Proceedings der 13th International Conference on Wirtschaftsinformatik (WI 2017), St. Gallen, 1291-1294.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1483228800
    1
    2017
    Kowatsch T, Volland D, Shih I, Rüegger D, Künzler F, Barata F, Filler A, Büchter D, Brogle B, Heldt K, Gindrat P, Farpour-Lambert N, l’Allemand D. Design and evaluation of a mobile chat app for the open source behavioral health intervention platform MobileCoach. 12th International Conference on Design Science Research in Information Systems and Technology (DESRIST 2017), Karlsruhe, Germany.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1472688000
    9
    2016
    Wahle F, Kowatsch T, Fleisch E, Rufer M, Weidt S. Mobile sensing and support for people with depression: A pilot trial in the wild. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2016 Sep 21;4(3):e111. doi: 10.2196/mhealth.5960. PMID: 27655245; PMCID: PMC5052463.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1448928000
    12
    2015
    Haug S, Castro RP, Kwon M, Filler A, Kowatsch T, Schaub MP. Smartphone use and smartphone addiction among young people in Switzerland. J Behav Addict. 2015 Dec;4(4):299-307. doi: 10.1556/2006.4.2015.037. PMID: 26690625; PMCID: PMC4712764.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1444348800
    10
    2015
    Kehr F, Kowatsch T, Wentzel D, Fleisch E. Blissfully ignorant: The effects of general privacy concerns, general institutional trust, and affect in the privacy calculus. Information Systems Journal. 2015 Oct 9; 25(6): 607-635.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1420070400
    1
    2015
    Filler A, Kowatsch T, Haug S, Wahle F, Staake T, Fleisch E. MobileCoach: A novel open source platform for the design of evidence-based, scalable and low-cost behavioral health interventions. 14th Annual Wireless Telecommunications Symposium (WTS 2015), USA, New York.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1388534400
    1
    2014
    Kowatsch T, Maass W, Pletikosa Cvijikj I, Xu R, Büchter D, Brogle B, Dintheer A, Wiegand D, Durrer D, Schutz Y, l’Allemand D.  Design of a health information system enhancing the performance of obesity expert and children teams. 22nd European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS), 2014. Tel Aviv, Israel.
    View Source
  • type-published
    1388534400
    1
    2014
    Wahle F, Kowatsch T. Towards the design of evidence-based mental health information systems: A preliminary literature review. 35th International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS), 2014. Auckland, New Zealand.
    View Source