The MSc Digital Health at Strathclyde provides students with an opportunity to learn about a wide-ranging field which covers everything from telehealth to health apps, wearables, sensors, remote monitoring, electronic health records, artificial intelligence and robotics. The wide scale use of smartphones allows more equitable access to person-centred solutions eg. diabetes and COPD monitoring apps, appointment booking and consultations, support groups and health information. New and emerging technologies are set to have a transformative effect on health and social care and the ability to analyse large sets of data is driving developments in genomics, diagnostics and treatment.
The Digital Health Implementation class highlights the complexity involved in the design and implementation of innovations. Data security issues, lack of wi-fi coverage and ageing or disconnected infrastructure stop proven solutions from being scaled up. Vast numbers of commercial products are available, but it is not always obvious how safe or effective these are. Simpler ideas such as text messaging services can have as much impact as complex high-tech solutions. Support and information are needed to improve public confidence in the benefits of digital health and awareness of areas where further regulation and testing is required.
The Design of Usable Health Systems class, highlights the importance of co-design and testing with end users throughout the design process to improve the usability of products. Students designed an interactive prototype for a health product or system to gain practical experience of the tools and techniques involved. The focus was on interaction design, understanding user context, accessibility, evaluation processes and business requirements.
Other classes this term included Project Management which provides a grounding in theory and techniques required in industry and public services. Lastly, the Healthy Aging class highlights the diversity of the ageing population and digital health solutions in relation to wellbeing, treatment and therapy, self-management, carers, community-based solutions, independent living, end of life care and addressing health inequalities.
All the classes included examples of ongoing research whether by staff in the department or via connections with other universities, as well as the study materials/reading. A range of speakers from health and social care gave practical examples of how digital health is currently being applied in a range of contexts. Students on the course are from varied backgrounds reflecting the multi-disciplinary nature of the design and implementation of digital health systems. The scholarships provided by the DHI provide a great opportunity to get involved in education and training within a varied and growing field and I would definitely recommend applying.