Engineering the Future of Healthcare

An interdisciplinary approach and practical projects are hallmarks of WPI’s research.  We engage partners from industry, healthcare providers, other academic institutions, and government agencies with end-users in the research process to help ensure that the problems explored focus on improving patient outcomes and consumer health.

HDI encompasses experts in a wide variety of research areas, from systems engineering to digital health medical robotics and other technological innovation, and from informatics and information security to user experience design.

Digital Health and IoT

The digital revolution has brought disruptive changes to the health sector, including the requirement that providers convert to electronic health record systems that collect data and share it with other devices, all contributing to the healthcare “Internet of Things.” With expertise in technology, data analytics, and behavioral health, WPI researchers focus on innovations that tailor and package key technologies that deliver health benefits in behaviorally and medically sound ways, such as mobile devices that efficiently collect and track health information.

Data Intelligence and Machine Learning

Healthcare and medicine face large data challenges, including size of data sets, variety of data types, and privacy and security needs. WPI researchers have extensive expertise in key areas of health and medical informatics, including data collection using sensors and mobile technologies, high-performance big data infrastructures, machine learning, data visualization, and business intelligence. The goal is well-founded methodologies and practical solutions to problems in data collection and analysis, predictive modeling, and deployment of solutions in clinical and healthcare settings.

Cybersecurity in Healthcare

The proliferation of electronic health record systems and medical devices, and the sharing of data between them, leads to vulnerabilities in privacy and security. WPI faculty members tackle these threats leveraging expertise in Internet security, medical cyber-physical systems security, environment-coupled security for body-area networks, security for next-generation wearable systems, and the design of secure medical device systems. This research has helped secure hospital and healthcare provider networks from malicious network traffic and better understand characteristics of attacks to prevent future breaches.

Health Systems Engineering

Systems engineers define a system, specify important performance measures—and then apply modeling approaches to improve it. In healthcare, systems are often complex, encompassing multiple variations and objectives. WPI faculty members with expertise in industrial engineering, system dynamics, and systems engineering work to understand customer needs and specify functional requirements. With funding from local healthcare organizations, the Veterans Health Administration, and the National Science Foundation, they’ve addressed issues at the policy and operational levels.

User Experience and Decision Making

As the IT industry has matured, many of its products have become commodities, placing an increasing emphasis on user experience. The healthcare research expertise of the WPI faculty, along with state-of-the-art user experience tools and equipment, position WPI uniquely in the e-health technology design space to address key healthcare and medical technology challenges. The effectiveness of this research in creating social value is evidenced by an ongoing collaboration with the INDEX program at the Kennedy Shriver Center, which makes websites accessible for people with cognitive disabilities.