Why a Ph.D. In PHI?
Ignite positive, disruptive change in health and wellness worldwide
Personal Health Informatics stands to play a key role in the future of medicine. Many health systems worldwide today are focused on “sickcare,” rather than prevention and wellness. They are costly and slow to adapt to changing needs and demographics, and they are under enormous financial strain. In developing countries, large populations are served with few caregivers and often with limited resources and communication systems.
Interest in consumer- and patient-facing interfaces is exploding, with industry and academia taking advantage of advances in consumer-electronics to develop novel health technologies using the Internet (e.g., personal health records), mobile devices, advanced sensors, and sophisticated computing techniques such as pattern recognition, machine learning, data mining, dialogue understanding, and advanced visualization. Northeastern’s PHI program will educate researchers who will lead this emerging industry and transform the way healthcare is delivered and wellness is managed in the U.S and worldwide.
The Challenge: A System Under Stress
The following trends are driving a shift towards consumer- and patient-centered health systems:
- A move to preventive medicine as the cost of provider-based care (largely delivered through hospitals and clinics) escalates;
- A growing aging population with a declining workforce to provide care;
- An increase in the need for coping mechanisms as more people live with chronic conditions;
- A transition toward self-pay and personal responsibility for health; and
- Growing evidence that poor information exchanges between the consumer/patient and the medical provider result in errors, misunderstandings, and risks to patients that impact quality of care and increased costs.
These changes will significantly impact older adults, urban minorities, disability populations, and those with low health literacy. As the U.S. and worldwide medical systems transition from crisis-response to a greater emphasis on prevention and maintaining wellness, the demand for cost-effective, consumer- and patient-centered human-computer interfaces that improve patient understanding and health outcomes will increase. Experts who are skilled in creating innovative technologies that can respond to these changes will be in demand. Graduates of this program will be equipped with the tools, transdisciplinary experience, and knowledge to invent the next generation of technologies in this emerging field.
The Opportunity: Personal Health Informatics
Innovative technologies that improve care at acceptable costs may transform healthcare delivery by empowering individuals to stay healthy and recover from illness as quickly and painlessly as possible. These personal health technologies can be designed to increase not only lifespan, but also the time we live in the best possible health – our healthspan. Technologies may improve healthspan by supporting disease prevention, health monitoring, trauma recovery, and coping from birth through advanced age.
Graduates of Northeastern’s doctoral program will be equipped with the theoretical background, tools, experience, and knowledge to invent, prototype, evaluate, and disseminate the next generation of personal health informatics technologies and, in the process, contribute to the transformation of healthcare as we know it.