Chronic diseases are on the rise and pose a fundamental challenge to the healthcare system. The Swiss Health Observatory stated in the national health report 2015 that 2.2 million people are currently suffering from a chronic disease in Switzerland. While this number corresponds to 27% of the Swiss population, the direct costs caused by chronic diseases are estimated to be 80% of the total healthcare costs. Those figures are expected to increase substantially over the next decades.

Chronic diseases are particularly difficult to manage for the healthcare system, since it was originally designed for the treatment of acute diseases. However, therapy requirements differ drastically between acute and chronic diseases. For example, treatment of chronic diseases like asthma highly relies on disease (self-)management. Therefore, patients with chronic diseases need to be become active stakeholders in their disease treatment. We believe that digital health interventions have the potential to empower patients and thus be a critical part of the solution to the challenges, which chronic diseases are posing: With almost unlimited scalability and the possibility to deliver tailored interventions then, when they are needed the most, digital health interventions provide the therapeutic features desperately needed for effective disease management and patient empowerment.

Our main objective in the Digital Health Interventions for Asthma project is to design such digital health interventions for asthma, which is one of the most common chronic diseases. Research has conclusively shown that effective disease management interventions can directly affect an asthmatic’s quality of life, enabling a life with almost no symptoms and constraints. To ensure efficacy in our digital asthma interventions, we combine cutting-edge technology with evidence-based medicine and behavioral science. Our vision is to enable people suffering from asthma to gain control over their disease, so that they can live their life to the fullest.

To realize our vision, we are currently working on two topics: Firstly, we are analyzing the potential of digital health interventions for changing a patient’s health behavior. For that purpose, we evaluate novel approaches towards educating patients with asthma. Secondly, we develop disruptive IT-solutions for asthma disease monitoring, breaking with the old traditions of peak-flow and symptom diaries.

Video Clips


Tinschert, P., Jakob, R., Barata, F., Kramer, J. N., & Kowatsch, T. (2017). The Potential of Mobile Apps for Improving Asthma Self-Management: A Review of Publicly Available and Well-Adopted Asthma Apps. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 5(8), e113. (Link)
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. (2017) Design and Evaluation of a Mobile Chat App for the Open Source Behavioral Health Intervention Platform MobileCoach, In: Maedche A., vom Brocke J., Hevner A. (eds) Designing the Digital Transformation. DESRIST 2017. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 10243. Springer: Berlin; Germany, 485-489. (Paper-PDF | Poster-PDF | Slide-PDF | Screencast)
Tinschert, P., Barata, F., Kowatsch, T., (2017) Enhancing Asthma Control through IT: Design, Implementation and Planned Evaluation of the Mobile Asthma Companion, in Leimeister, J.M.; Brenner, W. (Hrsg.): Proceedings der 13th International Conference on Wirtschaftsinformatik (WI 2017), St. Gallen, 1291-1294. (PDF)
Barata, F., Kowatsch, T., Tinschert, P., Filler, A., (2016) Personal MobileCoach: Tailoring Behavioral Interventions to the Needs of Individual Participants, UbiComp ’16 Proceedings of the 2016 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing: Adjunct  Workshop Designing, Developing, and Evaluating The Internet of Personal Health (IoPH), Heidelberg, Germany, 1089-1094. (PDF)