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Digital Pill: What We Do and Learn at the Crossing of Behavioral Information Systems and NCDs

April 26, 2017

Elgar Fleisch, PhD
Professor of Information Management, ETH Zurich
Professor of Technology Management, Universität St. Gallen (HSG)

About the Presentation:  More than 10 years ago, we started combining the disciplines behavioral economics with computer science (with a focus on the Internet of Things) in the field of resource conservation. We learned that, if designed carefully, the resulting behavioral information systems can lead to extraordinary and sustainable behavioral changes. Why? Because advanced information technology such as connected sensors, chatbots, smartphones, machine learning and cloud computing that enables analytics across a massive user basis, allows for the first time to compute and deliver individual and context-specific interventions to users in real-time at any time/place and zero marginal cost. We used this body of knowledge in several fields of applications, including smart water meters that reduce water consumption, and feedback systems in cars to support a save and eco-friendly driving style.

About 5 years ago, we formed a transdisciplinary team including researchers from psychology, computer science and management to investigate the domain health. We found that the treatment of chronical illnesses is a perfect match to the properties of successful Internet applications. Therefore, we focused on digital therapeutics treating NCDs and teamed up with complementary partners including clinicians, payers, pharma and governmental organizations. Since then we have been building an IT-based system (the MobileCoach, and its components (e.g. digital biomarkers) that allow caregivers to scale long-term treatments to the masses with an increase in quality at a fraction of today’s costs. Together with these partners, we run several experiments, from usability studies to clinical RCTs, in the fields of diet, drinking and smoking disorders, stress and burnout, asthma, diabetes and more.

In a recent project, we investigate how we can derive digital biomarkers as a byproduct from domains “outside healthcare” such as the car and the home. The presentation will illustrate the building blocks, key findings and open questions along selected cases and projects.

About the Presenter: Elgar Fleisch has a double appointment at ETH Zürich and University St. Gallen (HSG). At ETH, he is a full professor of information management, at HSG of technology management.

At ETH Zürich Elgar Fleisch is part of the Department of Management, Technology, and Economy (D-MTEC). At HSG he is part of the Institute of Technology Management (ITEM-HSG) where he serves as director, and at the university level as a member of the Habilitationskommission, and the Weiterbildungskommission.

At both affiliations, Elgar Fleisch runs a team of post docs and doctoral students. All research projects span across both teams.

In his research, Elgar Fleisch and his team aim at understanding and designing the ongoing merge between the physical and digital world, a vision that was recently coined the “Internet of Things”. His work focuses on applications, economic impacts, and infrastructures of mobile and ubiquitous computing.