Welcome to the Workshop on Adaptive Treatments and Therapies (WATTs) which is a satellite event on the 9th International Conference on Pervasive Computing Technologies for Healthcare in Istanbul on May 2015
Traditional forms of healthcare have been challenged by the new highly flexible and customizable pervasive paradigm. Many pervasive solutions to health rely on sending patient data to the expert clinicians which in turn respond to the alarms received, but fail to make the pervasive solution intelligent enough to reduce the demand of expert time and availability as well as collect data transparently for the patient. One of the keys to the success of the ubiquitous paradigm to deliver health to the population is the ability for dynamically customize interventions; treatments (the curing agent) and therapies (the rehabilitation programme), to the changing patient needs whilst still guaranteeing compliance with treatment and therapy demands. Adaptive treatments and therapies (ATTs) are a necessary step to make pervasive health a democratic form of health care delivery; available to anyone, anywhere, anytime. This dynamic customization or adaptive behaviour is ultimately responsible for the pervasive solution to reduce exhaustive expert supervision; a critical advantage to reduce health delivery costs, permit out-ward continuous supervision, motivate patients through personalized care, and achieve an anytime health assistance.
Common to all of these intelligent ATTs solutions is a decision-making engine. Manifestation of this engine comes in many flavours; from naïve prefixed thresholds to sophisticated artificial intelligence approaches, from solutions only relying on observable metrics to elaborated algorithms inferring affective and cognitive states of the patient, from those offering a deterministic decision over a certain scenario to those affording probabilistic advice intelligently managing uncertainty and being context aware. Yet, despite all the latest advancements, ATTs are still far from fulfilling their potential of making pervasive health virtually autonomous with minimal human expert intervention.
Ultimately, this workshop aims to elucidate why despite all the latest advancements, ATTs are still far from fulfilling their potential of making pervasive health solutions virtually autonomous with minimal human intervention. More specifically, the workshop is organised aiming to address and hopefully answer some of the following questions:
Chronic and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) conform an umbrella of medical conditions that combined impose a huge burden on society; both social and economical and with particular impact on middle and low income countries. Ubiquitous health or ubihealth is often understood as the deployment of health solutions based on information and communication technologies (ICTs), and it is easy to find examples of ubihealth solutions to deal with NCDs. Arguably, the biggest selling point of the current ubihealth solutions is the availability of the health service in less restricted locations than the traditional health centres and hospitals. Under this paradigm of health care delivery, medical assistance becomes remote and asynchronous, ideally on demand but more realistically, at the specific times when the doctors have the availability to attend alarms or perform routinely checks on ad-hoc databases.
Thus far, many initiatives and excellent ideas have been proposed but they struggle to become widely accepted. The technology cannot be blamed for the sense that ubihealth is failing to achieve what it promises, with the state of the art well beyond the necessary demands of most proposals. Perhaps, a more plausible explanation is that it remains strongly dependent on human actions. Most ubihealth solutions expect that the patient collaborates somehow in the data collection, and that the doctor shall have the will and availability to attend the remote business. If ubihealth treatments and therapies are to be successful, the solutions have to become smarter. They have to drop or at least ameliorate dependency on human experts and be able to take intelligent decisions. The clear winner will be those solutions capable to adapt to context and circumstances as well as to varying idiosyncrasy.
Technology is mature, costs are becoming affordable and the society is becoming widely aware of the possibility of remote health care attention based on ICTs. Only the computational element responsible for adaptation beneath the solutions seems to be lagging behind.
ATTs are a critical element for the success of pervasive health. It is a multidisciplinary field where expertise on biomedicine, nursing, psychology, public policy and administration, education, engineering in several disciplines and computing converge. The topic is deceivingly vast and consequently we are seeking to attract a multidisciplinary audience with special focus on the computational aspects of the adaptive solution. Contributions are welcomed in the following or related topics: