Tandon-led initiative will help healthcare practitioners adopt new data-intensive technologies quicker and easier

A multi-disciplinary, multi-school team of researchers are reimagining the way that new inclusive healthcare technologies are put into work.

How will rapidly expanding health data-intensive technologies affect the future of healthcare work? A team of NYU researchers from the schools of engineering, medicine and business led by Professor Oded Nov of NYU Tandon are conducting a broad investigation into how to best bring inclusive tech into the clinic, empowering healthcare workers to take advantage of data-driven research and improve health outcomes for patients. 

The problem that the team is taking on is the disconnect between the status quo for healthcare practice that nurses, physician assistants, allied health staff, etc. are already familiar with, and the ways these practices are altered by advanced technologies. Particularly troublesome is the new reliance on big data, which in such vast quantities can burden practitioners who are not used to working with it.

The team recently received a $2.5 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to pursue research focused on the growth of data-intensive technologies in healthcare, including telehealth and artificial intelligence (AI) based tools. The new grant reflects a continued investment of the NSF in NYU’s digital health work initiative.

“The new grant will help us further develop our NYU-wide research program on digital health work as an interdisciplinary research domain that brings together technological, organizational and medical innovations toward a healthy and resilient society, and an inclusive healthcare workforce,” said Nov.

The project’s approach centers on alleviating misalignment between current healthcare work and data-intensive technologies, focusing on three areas:

  • Co-developing tools and generalizable design principles with users that lower the barriers to technology integration for healthcare workers 
  • Empowering individuals within healthcare systems who have diverse roles to adopt and use the tools and improve their skills 
  • Enabling patient-centered healthcare that promotes autonomy and strengthens clinician-patient concordance 

While new technologies are constantly being developed, the hardest part to making sure they work is the “last mile” — a socio-technical challenge that involves getting the right technologies matched with the right interfaces into the hands of diverse healthcare workers, and creating alignments between workflows, organizations, and technologies. 

For example, a nurse may have access to technology that allows them to remotely monitor the vitals of a home-bound patient, over long periods of time. Packaging the tracked data and presenting it interpretably in the context of the nurse’s workflow could be helpful in identifying and solving potential health problems before they escalate, and empower an increasingly diverse and overburdened non-physician healthcare professionals.

The new grant is part of the NSF Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier, one of the foundation’s 10 Big Ideas that covers evolving technologies that are actively shaping the lives of workers and how people in turn can shape those technologies, especially in the world of work, The initiative brings together NSF research communities to conduct basic scientific research on the interaction of humans, society, and technology that will help shape the future of work to increase opportunities for workers and productivity for the American economy.

The team, comprising researchers with varied skills and expertises, includes investigators Devin Mann of NYU Grossman School of Medicine, and Batia Wiesenfeld of NYU Stern, bringing together multiple schools into one project. The full team includes Rumi Chunhara, Maurizio Porfiri, and Graham Dove from the Tandon School of Engineering; Antoinette Schoenthaler, Joseph Ravenell, Katharine Lawrence, Olugbenga Ogedegbe, and Yin Aphinyanaphongs from the Grossman School of Medicine; and John-Ross Rizzo, who has appointment at both schools.