conference · eHealth · Medical applications · Medical Records Online · National information structure

Some reflections on this year’s national eHealth day, part 1

Earlier this week I attended this year’s version of the national eHealth day in Stockholm. It was a really inspiring day with many interesting talks. I’m very happy that I decided to join the event. In this post I will just give some comments on the overall organization and in later posts I will dig deeper into some specific topics that were covered during the day.

Quite a few topics were handled during the different sessions and a common focus was the national vision for eHealth 2025, “In 2025, Sweden will be best in the world at using the opportunities offered by digitisation and eHealth to make it easier for people to achieve good and equal health and welfare, and to develop and strengthen their own resources for increased independence and participation in the life of society.” There were 12 presentations in total and some of the presentations also transitioned into panels. You can find the entire schedule as well as recordings of the different sessions here.

The day started out with general introductions about the state of eHealth development in some key areas in Sweden. The consensus seems to be that we have come a long way, but we can get even better when it comes to for example infrastructure on the national level and collaboration between all relevant stakeholders. Examples of eHealth initiatives that were brought up were: the national medication list, the continuous development of the national eHealth portal 1177 (intended to be the first contact point with care in a not so distant future) and an upcoming national digital vaccination register (about time!).

During most of the day after the introductory presentations some specific areas, where eHealth development has had a large impact, were discussed. Examples of areas were the Swedish social services, self-care, monitoring of patients in their homes and doctor’s visits online. It is very clear that eHealth development has had major effects on these areas both when it comes to need for infrastructure and changes of work processes.

Some topics on a more general level were also discussed, like for example data protection, standards for interoperability and international initiatives on the EU level. I found the discussion on international initiatives extra interesting – some countries have already implemented cross-country medication lists and health record summaries, and Sweden will join quite soon! I will write more about this in a separate post.

I think the overall organization was great, even though the audience could have been involved more (the interaction with the audience mainly consisted of two mentimeter questions). Both the coffee breaks and the lunch were all vegan and there was also an exhibition as well as network activities (moderated by an app!) during all breaks. I especially enjoyed a booth where good examples of eHealth implementations in Sweden were showcased through short videos.

DOME · eHealth · Haptics · Medical applications · Medical Records Online · National patient survey · Summer school

Today I celebrate my blog’s first anniversary!


Exactly one year ago I wrote my very first blog post! You can read that short post here. From the beginning my intention was to write two posts a week, but for different reasons my average during this first year is 1.4/week. During this first year the blog has had 2782 views by 1466 visitors. During the first couple of months the number of views were under 100, but I’m glad to see that the numbers have kept increasing – the number of views in September was 491, and 53 views have been accumulated during the first days of October this year.

Since this is a special blog post, the picture I chose is not by any means related to my work. Instead, I chose one of the pictures I took while hiking in northern Sweden (Abisko) about two years ago – I just love the nature up there!

As a kind of celebration, I will here present a top 5 list with the five most read posts:

  1. My colleague, Thomas Lind, successfully defended his thesis today!

This is one of my latest posts, which I uploaded in the middle of September. Despite the short time frame this is, by far, the most read post! The post is about the defense resulting in my colleague, Thomas Lind, getting a Ph.D. degree.

  1. EHealth summer school in Dublin, day 5

Those who have followed my blog during the latest months know that I have been writing quite extensively about a summer school I attended – one week in Dublin and one week in Stockholm. I’m very happy to see that one of those posts is on this list, because it took quite a lot of time to write them. This particular post is also a kind of summary post which includes links to the other posts about the week in Dublin. The summer school was a nice experience in so many ways and I really encourage you to read those posts if you are interested in eHealth/mHealth design (the Stockholm posts, although not on the top 5 lists, can be found here).

  1. A very successful session about patient accessible electronic health records at Vitalis 2017!

This post is not only on the top 5 list regarding views, but it is, by far, the most shared post on social media. The post summarizes an 1.5 hours session hosted by the DOME consortium at Vitalis last spring. I really hope we will get the opportunity to do something similar at Vitalis 2018! Read this post if you want to know about the state of art regarding patient accessible electronic health records in Sweden.

  1. The team behind a new large patient survey on electronic health records in Sweden!

I’m also happy to see this one on the list – since this post represents one of the big studies I’m currently leading. This particular study is based on a large national survey focusing on patients’ experiences with and attitudes towards the patient accessible electronic health system Journalen. In this post I introduce all researchers that work with the study.

  1. Haptic feedback in medical applications

The fifth most read post belongs to the blog series on haptic feedback as an interaction modality, which I started last autumn. This particular one concerns how haptic feedback can be utilized in medical applications. In this post I also introduce my own work within this area, which I carried out as a Ph.D. student at KTH.

So, these were my five most read posts, and I’m glad to see that they relate to different areas. The only area not covered in this list is pedagogical development. This might change during the next year, however, since I will most probably get an extensive study on Twitter as a communication medium in higher education courses published and I will also write a series of posts about a basic course in human-computer interaction which I will be responsible for at Uppsala University (starting October 30).

I have really enjoyed the blogging activity and will definitely continue to update this blog regularly, so stay tuned for more!  🙂

Haptics · Medical applications

Haptic feedback in medical applications


This second blog post about haptics as an interaction modality, will be devoted the area of medicine. During recent years haptics has become more and more important in medical applications, when it comes to both training, simulation and image analysis. An important rationale behind using the haptic modality in medical training applications is, of course, that you can get “the real feeling” and practice motor skills without actually having to practice on a patient.

There are several examples of cases in which the addition of haptic feedback to a visual interface has proven to make a positive difference in medical simulators. I will just bring up two examples here to illustrate the potential of haptic feedback.

A group of Chinese researchers developed a simulator for training Chinese acupuncture (reference is, sadly, behind a pay wall). Places where a simulated needle (controlled by the haptic device I described here) could be inserted were highlighted on a virtual patient’s back and when inserting the needle it was also possible to feel the difference between different tissues (the stiffness varied). By using this simulator students could not only learn where needles should be inserted but also how it should feel when the needle was at the correct place.

A haptic simulator, named the Kobra, for extraction of wisdom teeth, was actually developed at KTH, by Ph. D. Jonas Forsslund. This simulator is shown in the image above (source: Forsslund Systems). In this simulator the user can perform an entire wisdom tooth extraction procedure by using a virtual drill, operated by pedals. During the procedure, a semitransparent mirror is used for hand-eye coordination and a pair of 3D glasses gives the depth perception. In the image above you can also see the haptic device (shown as the drill in the virtual environment) and the mannequin placed under the semitransparent mirror. The positions of the mannequin and of the virtual head are synchronized so that the hand can rest on the mannequin while using the virtual drill on one of the wisdom teeth! The Kobra project actually started off as a master’s thesis project in 2008 and has now become a commercial product! You can read a lot more about this simulator on: Forsslund Systems.

Both of the above examples illustrate one of the important functions haptic feedback can play in medical simulators – you can practice motor skills and certain procedures without having to be dependent on involving patients. This is extra important in the dental simulator case, where it is possible to practice procedures which are not that easy to describe in theory. You can practice the same procedure over and over again without wearing out a material or risk hurting a patient. During initial evaluations it was shown that it was indeed possible to simulate the procedure of bone drilling, but effects on performance could not be shown. I think there is a good chance that future evaluations could show a positive effect on learning outcome.

Another area, not brought up yet, where haptic feedback can be an aid within the medical domain is surgical planning. I performed research myself within that area during my Ph. D. studies at KTH, when I evaluated an application for surgical planning, developed by Jonas Forsslund, with doctors at the Karolinska Hospital. I will, however, get back to that particular study in a later blog post, when results from the study have been published. Those who are curious can read about some pre-studies and the haptic application here (only the abstract is shown, but if you have access to IEEE-publications you can follow the provided DOI to find the paper).