To improve the technical development of the sector, various areas of knowledge within Chalmers can play a key role, such as architecture, organizational development and e-health solutions.
“Chalmers has students who are competent in these three areas, but that doesn’t mean they are automatically good at collaboration. They need to practice interdisciplinary teamwork! For us, that was the starting point when we created this Tracks course” says Patrik Alexandersson who is responsible for the course.
Chalmers student, Sebastian Rye, participated in the first round of the course Here, there and everywhere – healthcare integrated into our everyday lives and places. He is currently studying his final year of Industrial Engineering and Management and is currently writing his Master thesis where he investigates how the use of artificial intelligence can be used in an efficient way in the healthcare sector.
“I had actually already chosen all my elective courses, but the Tracks course great combination of healthcare, interdisciplinary collaboration with mixed student groups and the opportunity to make contacts in the industry was a little too difficult to resist. I just had to take that extra course!”.
Current and real challenges
Tracks is a major investment in education and in new learning environments funded by the Chalmers Foundation. Tracks elective courses will complement students' programmes, introduce them to new subject areas and give them the opportunity to practice interdisciplinary teamwork.
Tracks courses are also linked to the latest research and to industry. In this course, the subject area was presented by representatives from the Högsbo Specialist Hospital and from Sahlgrenska University Hospitals’ digital R&D department. Chalmers Center for Healthcare Improvement (CHI) is also behind the course as well as patients who were involved to give feedback on the students' solutions.
The intention with Tracks courses is that they should be able to quickly adapt to current needs and challenges in work-life and society. The healthcare-course is a good example. In the spring of 2020, when the new corona virus began to spread around the world, the teachers decided to include a case about pandemic management in the course, which was not planned from the beginning. Students could choose from three different cases to work with together in small groups: Pandemic, “Life Event Cancer” and Virtual Hospital.
The case called “Life Event Cancer” shed a light on the fact that there are more things than just the patient's disease that needs to be taken care of in the case of a cancer diagnosis. One question that the students discussed was how and with what digital tools the patient and their families can be supported throughout a treatment period.
Virtual hospital and virtual care in general are current topics in the healthcare sector today. Healthcare can be provided in many ways and doesn’t always have to be linked to a physical hospital building. Åsa Holmgren, project manager at Högsbo Specialist Hospital, believes that more technical solutions are needed, but that they need to be carefully examined – which solutions are the most useful within the healthcare sector? In response to which situations and when can they be applied for the best possible outcomes?
“By learning more about how different technical solutions can be used, healthcare can be changed and improved. An example could be to develop the patient's ability to self-test at home, which the medical staff can follow up and manage – maybe it can lead to faster regulation of drug dosage. I have to say that the students impressed me with their insights and innovative suggestions in their final presentations!” says Åsa Holmgren.
Among other things, the students had suggestions for continuous feedback from a number of health parameters in patients staying at home. This is something that may create a preventive effect. Patients with better knowledge of their own health would also contribute to a more accurate decision-making by the caregiver. An increased use of Machine learning was also proposed, in order to, for example, identify early risk parameters for potential development of cancer.
In their final presentations the students came up with ideas regarding different health parameters that may be possible for the patients to control by themselves, at home. Something that could have a preventive effect and provide the patients with better knowledge of their own health status and contribute to an improved decision-making-process for the healthcare provider. Another suggestion from the students was more frequent use of Machine Learning. This could be a tool to identify early risk parameters for potential development of cancer.
Aim to increase students’ interest in the healthcare sector
During the first round of the course Here, there and everywhere – healthcare integrated in our everyday life and places, Chalmers students from eight different educational programmes participated and for the next course, planned this autumn, Patrik Alexandersson aims for even more.
“We hope that our course can lead to increased knowledge of, and interest in healthcare among architecture and engineering students. By participating in the course, students gain a very good insight into the sector's challenges and its logic, which is enormously positive, both for themselves, Chalmers and for society in general.”
Sebastian Rye was already interested in the subject before the start of the course, and he thinks that the opportunity to choose a course based on his own interest was very rewarding.
“The teachers were incredibly committed and experienced in the area and guided us throughout the course, but at the same time it was a lot of project-oriented teamwork and a lot of self-studies. I really thought that the course complemented my other studies well, because in Tracks courses you get to practically apply the things you have learned to a subject you are interested in. This means that the knowledge you have gained from your programme actually gets enhanced!”
Text: Julia Jansson
Photo: Västfastigheter, Sjukhusen i väster och Högsbo specialistsjukhus