Keynote and Digital Therapeutics workshop by Tobias Kowatsch, Reykjavik University, Iceland, 1 June 2023

Today, Tobias Kowatsch was invited by Prof. Stefán Ólafsson from Reykjavik University to talk about digital therapeutics (DTx) for healthy longevity and to give a workshop with the DTx MobileCoach.

MobileCoach: An Open Source Software Platform for Digital Health Interventions

MobileCoach is an open-source software platform for the design of smartphone-based health interventions and ecological momentary assessments. Since its first release in 2015, MobileCoach-based studies have been conducted in the areas of health literacy in asthma and nutrition, subclinical depression, mindfulness and stress reduction, chronic disease management (e.g., hypertension, diabetes, asthma), physical activity, personality development, chronic pain, childhood obesity, and holistic preventive care. MobileCoach is a client-server system.

On the MobileCoach server, intervention content (e.g., images, video clips, links to external resources such as websites) and logic (e.g., rules that define when to deliver what intervention or data collection request) are defined via the MobileCoach Designer. The MobileCoach Designer is a web-based graphical user interface that implements a rule-based conversational agent that imitates a conversation with a human being. This agent then delivers the intervention content or ecological momentary assessments via the MobileCoach client applications. MobileCoach can be extended by various other interventions or data collection components.

Examples of extensions include …

  1. web-based dashboards for (patient) remote monitoring purposes,
  2. app-based cockpits with gamification features that indicate the study progress,
  3. audio recordings for cough detection via the smartphone’s microphone,
  4. use of sensor data streams from medical devices (e.g., blood glucose data),
  5. state of receptivity models that trigger interventions or data collection requests at the most opportune moments or
  6. integration of Unity-based intervention components.

The session has the following objectives:

  • To provide an overview of MobileCoach through various studies and live demonstrations
  • To showcase the design of a digital health intervention with MobileCoach Designer
  • To discuss novel features and open research questions with the participants
  • To motivate participants to join the open source community and to exchange ideas about novel health intervention approaches (e.g., just-in-time adaptive interventions that bring together the digital biomarker and health intervention communities)

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, Switzerland. He is also the Scientific Director of the Center for Digital Health Interventions, a joint initiative of the University of Zurich, the University of St. Gallen, and ETH Zurich. In close collaboration with his interdisciplinary team and research partners, Tobias designs digital therapeutics (DTx) 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 DTx. He is also co-founder of the DTx company Pathmate Technologies.

Tobias has a Ph.D. in Management from the 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).

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