Velux Fonden to fund ITU research project in digital care practices
Five researchers from IT University of Copenhagen’s Digital Design Department have secured 5.7 million kroner from Velux Fonden to investigate how digital technologies affect the relationship between users and care providers in the healthcare system.
How does modern pacemaker technology affect heart patients? How has the digitalisation of practices changed the work of care providers? How do we ensure high quality in digital healthcare systems?
These are some of the questions that an ITU research group consisting of five associate professors from ITU’s Digital Design Department – Jonas Fritsch, Anna Vallgårda, Erik Grönvall, Marie Ertner, and Signe Yndigegn – will be examining in a new research project entitled TRAnsformations in CarE (TRACE) – Investigating Emerging Human-Technology Interaction in Practices of Care.
The project has just been awarded approximately 5.7 million kroner from Velux Fonden’s core-group programme.
TRAnsformations in CarE (TRACE) delivers new in-depth and critical knowledge about the rapid and profound transformations that our health and social care sectors are undergoing as effects of recent years’ digitalization. Today, care is increasingly being re-delegated and distributed through digital systems and devices implemented in our bodies, homes, and communities.
“The healthcare system is constantly expanding its use of digital technologies. Digital solutions are often implemented in an effort to streamline work processes, but they tend to have unforeseen consequences. We want to take a closer look at how the introduction of digital tools affect the relationship between care providers, care receivers, and their families,” says Jonas Fritsch.
“It is especially relevant to gain a better understanding of the role of technology in this field, because we are typically dealing with vulnerable people who have to live with these technologies. They rarely have a choice in the matter, so we need to ask, how does the technology affect people?” says Anna Vallgårda.
The project will run over the next four years, and the researchers will take four case studies as there starting point: blood glucose monitoring and insulin pumps for Type 1 diabetics, heart patients with ICD’s (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator), the use of tablets and apps in the municipal healthcare, as well as voice-controlled technologies in the care of the elderly. In all four cases, field work – and what the researchers have labelled design-ethnographic interventions – plays an important part.
“We will be visiting elderly people in their homes to try to understand how voice-controlled technologies work in practice. How do these technologies affect the care receivers’ perception of their environment, and do they affect their relationships to their own ageing?” says Marie Ertner.
The future of care providing
However, the project is not only focused on the relationship between the care receiver and the digital solutions:
“It is also our ambition to nuance notions of care receivers and people in vulnerable positions. We are not solely focusing on the care receivers. We are also interested in gaining a better understanding of the care receivers’ relatives who are also in a vulnerable position and also have to form a relationship to the digital tools. It is also important to note that there are a lot of benefits to technological advancements, and they hold great potential as long as they are designed properly,” says Erik Grönvall.
Ultimately, the goal of the project is to inform the design of future practices and tackle some of the problems that naturally arise when care providing is left to digital solutions.
“It is tremendously important to examine the issue from a design perspective. In our work, we combine ethnographical analysis with design theory, because design is all about grappling with new developments, and we do not know what the future holds. We want to find ways that allow us to understand how relationships and practices are changed by technology and how we overcome future challenges. A humanistic, interdisciplinary approach is vital to understanding how relationships are affected,” says Jonas Fritsch.
Velux Fonden’s core-group programme funds research in the humanities and social sciences. Each year, the foundation awards 40 million kroner to research projects. Theis Duelund Jensen, Press Officer, tel: 2555 0447, email: email@example.com