Personal Health Informatics

The Health Informatics research group collaborates with other Northeastern faculty to explore how emerging computing technology can change the way healthcare is delivered in the United States and worldwide. Researchers are investigating how advanced human-computer interaction technology can help people stay healthy, assist with hospital care and rehabilitation, and benefit people with special needs. Members of the research group are leading the creation of a Consortium for Technology on Proactive care based at Northeastern.

The researchers’ primary areas of interest include assistive technologies and interfaces, sensor-enabled behavioral interventions, ubiquitous computing for health and wellness, conversational agents to improve health literacy, and speech analysis software tools for use in health care.

Members of the Human–Computer interaction, information retrieval and data mining, and artificial intelligence research groups are also contributing to the college’s innovative work in health informatics.

Team Achievements

  • Awarded a National Cancer Institute grant to develop computer-animated conversational agents that guide cancer patients through the oncology clinical trial process
  • Awarded an Aetna Foundation grant to investigate influence of pervasive games on health behavior change
  • Created an animated virtual nurse that educates hospital patients about their health conditions and self-care after leaving the hospital, encourages people to exercise and take medications as prescribed, and simulates face-to-face conversations between patients and health-care professionals
  • Collaborated with a game company to develop a health pervasive game called SpaPlay
  • Created a game analytics platform and analyze health based data collected through a pervasive game
  • Developed small, low-cost sensors that can be worn for months at a time to automatically monitor physical activity via a mobile phone
  • Received a National Science Foundation Expeditions Award to develop computational sensing and medical technologies to capture, measure, analyze, and understand human behavior
  • Established the Consortium for Technology on Proactive Care to advance the use of sensors to monitor health in the home, discovery of new behavioral markers, and health and quality of life improvements
  • Created a technology that assists the study of autistic children in a classroom setting by automatically recognizing their repetitive motor movements
  • Created software to analyze infants’ babble and provide diagnostic information on whether a child may be at risk for speech-related problems
  • Developed a technology for wireless recording and visualization of sympathetic nervous system functioning related to stress, arousal, anxiety, and emotion
  • Developing information and communication technology to increase media and health literacy among adolescents in low-income communities
  • Developed novel assistive communication technologies that enable continuous gestures to select symbols for message formulation
  • Developed personalized synthetic voices for users of assistive technologies
  • Developing a mobile multimodal speech recognition prosthesis for individuals with communication impairment
  • Developing a brain computer communication interface for individuals with severe motor and speech impairment
  • Received a National Institutes for Health “Lab to Marketplace” grant to develop commercial tools to help researchers detect changes in speech that relate to variations in “speakers” physical health, mental and emotional stage, and stage of development