Stevens Researcher Wins NSF Grant for Mobile Healthcare Application

Dr. Yingying Chen reduces healthcare costs and generates marketplace potential

Hoboken, NJ, November 22, 2012 --( Researchers at Stevens Institute of Technology are developing pocket-sized, mobile personal health consultants. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Dr. Yingying Chen of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is improving consumer healthcare by leveraging the advanced sensors in mobile smart phones in novel ways to provide users with tailored health recommendations based on automatically collected data. This type of active monitoring and guidance on important health factors represents an important method of preventative care (i.e. healthcare concerned with prevention of disease). These measures have tremendous potential to improve a US healthcare landscape where costs continue to grow faster than the economy.

“As healthcare costs rise, policy-makers and researchers are increasingly looking to methods of preventative care to alleviate the burden on the economy and healthcare infrastructure,” says Dr. Michael Bruno, Dean of the Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering and Science. “With 35% of American adults owning a smartphone, Dr. Chen’s research in mobile health could improve quality of life for millions.”

Though there are a number of mobile health applications currently available, they all rely on the user to manually enter data to properly function. Research shows it is now possible to infer in real-time a range of human behaviors, allowing users to receive feedback responses to the everyday lifestyle choices and better manage their health.

Dr. Chen uses a new and advanced smartphone-enabled social and physical compass system (SENSCOPS) to collect the relevant data. SENSCOPS continuously collects measurements of daily activities. In addition to the sensors built into smartphones, external wearable sensors are used to collect specialized physiological information, such as heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature.

As modern wireless technology develops, information security continues to be a concern. “SENSCOPS maintains privacy and security by encrypting and storing data collected as secure personal health records in the server,” says Dr. Yu-Dong Yao, Director of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “Only authorized healthcare providers, such as nurses and doctors, can review the data.”

With the potential to reduce healthcare costs, SENSCOPS has insurance and marketplace potential. Medical costs in 2013 are expected to grow by 7.5%, which is more than three times the projected rate of inflation or economic growth (2.0% and 2.4%, respectively). Methods of preventative and proactive care can therefore provide tremendous value for individuals and society at large. “SENSCOPS allows users to better manage their health using personal feedback provided by mobile applications,” says Dr. Chen. “With medical costs continuing to rise, a smartphone based healthcare system which monitors users’ mental, cognitive, and physical well-being and facilitate early diagnosis of potential illnesses and taking preventive measures is of increasing interest to healthcare providers and insurance companies.”

Dr. Chen is the director of the Data Analysis and Information Security (DAISY) Lab. She is an expert on the use of machine learning techniques and data mining methods to classify and model security, system, network and healthcare related problems. Her research group develops algorithms with an emphasis on system implementation and validation in real-world scenarios. Her research is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC), Department of Defense (DoD), Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), and Google, Inc.

About Electrical and Computer Engineering
Stevens Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is home to a distinguished faculty conducting research on cutting edge hardware and software, supporting new horizons in wireless and multimedia networking, cognitive radio, and signal processing. Funded research on campus and active partnerships between departments and regional institutions provide students with rich opportunities to explore problems on the horizon in electronic and data technologies.

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Stevens Institute of Technology
Christine del Rosario