Northeastern’s Personal Health Informatics Doctoral Program is unique in that it focuses on:
- A truly transdisciplinary approach, combining computer science, design, and health;
- Studying patient-facing interaction within medical/health experiences (hospital, clinic, home, workplace, community);
- Individual and team-based experiential learning to provide exposure to the medical/health settings and professionals with varying styles of research and scholarship;
- Evaluation of technologies in field settings;
- The health science perspective as opposed to the “medical,” physician-oriented perspective;
- Wellness, healthcare, and recovery; and
- Embracing entrepreneurship and the dispersal of technologies into real-world settings.
Students will take core courses in theoretical foundations of health interface design, software engineering, human-computer interaction, and statistics. Some course content will link with a usability evaluation practicum requirement, where all students will be paired for a semester with a practitioner in a health field. In the practicum, the students will shadow the professional and study patients and their information needs. Some students may observe hospital/clinical settings, others may observe people in at-risk communities, depending upon the student’s research interests. Although the student will shadow a professional, the student will develop proposals for improving patient care and enhancing wellness using patient-facing technology.
In addition to other core courses (research methods, healthcare data standards), students participate in a two-semester, team-taught course, Personal Health Interface Design, Development, and Evaluation, where they work in teams to assess needs in the field using experiences from their practicums and collaboratively design, develop, deploy, and evaluate a personal health or wellness interface technology, either in a local clinical setting or among a population of at-risk individuals associated with one of Bouvé’s centers. This research will provide practical experience working in the field with consumers/patients, creating sophisticated technology, conducting formal needs assessment and evaluation, and writing high-quality publications. Modules throughout the course, taught by faculty affiliated with the Personal Health Informatics Doctoral Program, will provide additional core material such as running clinical trials, health dialogue systems, computerized sensing systems, etc. Students will also engage with industry representatives from the industrial consortium affiliated with the Ph.D. program to solve problems within the organizations of their members.
Students work on individual research projects. We anticipate students graduating from this program will have multiple, strong publications showing proficiency in building and deploying novel technologies for consumer- and patient-focused care.