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What’s this all about?! An example coaching dialogue…

The main objective of this website is to show you, the reader, what we are doing in the Council of Coaches project. To illustrate the objective of the project a little better, we are working on improving our website to be more illustrative and informative. Today we’ve updated our Project page with some example dialogue that hopefully clarifies what we have in mind when we are talking about a “Council of Coaches”.

Consider the example dialogue below between four virtual coaches and a fictive user “Bob”…

Alice: Have you considered trying to quit smoking, Bob?
Ben: Quit smoking… quit drinking, quit doing all the fun things in life! Why don’t you quit whining?
Florence: What a stupid thing to say, Ben! Next thing you’re going to tell us all about your grandfather who smoked all of his live and lived to be a 100 years old!
Ben: Well, for your information… Florence. My grandfather was a heavy smoker and he did turn out to be 94 years old, so there.
Richard: Florence, Ben, cut it out, this isn’t about you or your grandfather, we are talking about Bob, perhaps he has anything to say here?
Bob: (Say Nothing)
Alice: Well, you know that smoking does not guarantee an early death. But Bob here recently got diagnosed with COPD, a condition that is almost always caused by long-term smoking. Although it may not be easy, it is very important to try and quit as a very first step in dealing with this.
Ben: Sure, I guess, you are the expert.
Richard: And it has a positive effect on your taste! Think about all the delicious things we could cook together and how excellent all the flavors will work out.
Bob: I am trying but find it difficult.


What this example portrays, is that even without any active participation of the user (e.g. the point where Bob chooses to say nothing), the discussion can continue with some arguments and background on the topic of smoking cessation. At the end of the example, when the user finally becomes engaged (“I am trying but find it difficult.“), our COPD Coach, Alice, will have to opportunity to continue the dialogue with e.g. advice on how to stop smoking.

I hope this example clarified some our thoughts behind the project. Stay tuned for more updates…

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Platform Webinar

In Council of Coaches we are trying to be efficient in our software development and not re-invent the architectural wheel again. At this early stage of the project, we have been exploring two major software frameworks that see a lot of interest and use in the eHealth domain: FiWARE and universAAL. Below, you can watch the FIWARE and universaal Platform Webinar, hosted and presented by Álvaro Fides Valero of the Polytechnic University of Valencia.

Check back here for more video comment, or subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

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Digitalizing health: safety concerns and the Coaches’ answer. The doctors in our pockets.

Some advertisements claim that digital solutions will “put the doctor in your pockets”. This is indeed, the era of the digital transformation, in which technology puts diverse types of services in the hands of internet users – now half of the world population, to give a hint on the size of the matter – regardless of how far from the provider they are, and how complex and delicate the service is. The digital fever became so spread that some have become concerned with elements such as regulations, data protection and quality of services offered through digital tools. And a particular spot in this discourse, is taken by health and the so-called eHealth and mHealth services.
Confronted with the huge and growing number of digital medical apps appearing on the scene, the discourse over their quality, efficiency and safety, is spreading, and national and local authorities around Europe are appointing committees to check and classify medical apps, so to provide users with records of those that give good clinical evidence and services (e.g. the Agency of Sanitary Quality of Andalucía, ES, and the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency). But this control system encounters a few obstacles to efficiency. It is not clear based on what elements these authorities choose the apps they will check. It seems that those giving just general advices, do not need any certification, yet they might be giving advices impacting on delicate medical scenarios. Furthermore, this system of check-up and life-style improvement offers no comparison between how doctors would have made diagnosis and recommendations, and how the app did. Therefore, risks of errors remain high, and in the absence of cross-checking.
The Council of Coaches comes as a revolution in the digital transformation, since it will act on this very point: it will actually put the doctors in our pockets. The council will indeed, make the user experience “specific” not only because based on individual clinical information, but also since it will provide the user with professionals specialised in diverse areas, backing the digital tool, providing specialised interpretations of measurements and advices, and a possibility for cross-checking – given that the Coaches might not agree on a matter.
The goal is to help users be no more left alone with pieces of electronics and software; doctors have back their say in the interpretation of data and in the doctor-patient dialogue, so precious to diagnosis and healing; and digital health grow to a more organic and efficient level.

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Council of Coaches, act 1: the kick-off meeting

Enschede, The Netherlands, November 2 and 3, two months after the formal start of the Project, the members of the consortium gathered for the Council of Couches kick-off meeting.

Two intense days during which the coordinators, Hermie Hermens (University of Twente) and Harm op den Akker – technical coordinator – (Roessingh Research and Development – RRD) assisted by Jorien van Loon (UT), presented and discussed the project concept and its technical aspects with the work-packages leaders and other members of the consortium.

First in the buildings of the University of Twente, which offer students, researchers and staff a striking stimulating environment, and then at RRD premises, the partners have shared and discussed in a big brainstorming, the details of the work in which they will be engaged for the coming three years in order to make the Council of Coaches come to life.

With a presentation on Open Data from external staff, insights of administrative aspects, and a dinner, this event represented a teambuilding occasion too.

Next step will be getting closer to our stakeholders, on the first of December, in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

The game has just started, and more meetings and news are to come.

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In the Press: Council of Coaches @ University of Twente

The University of Twente has issued a press-release to announce the official start of the Council of Coaches project!

Growing old often comes with facing limitations. Prevention and a healthy lifestyle can be essential elements in preventing the negative effects of aging. Smart artificial intelligence can deliver additional benefits in this process. Together with partners from across Europe, the University of Twente (UT) and Roessingh Research & Development (RRD) will develop the Council of Coaches: a team of virtual coaches, supported by smart artificial intelligence, to motivate users in embracing a healthier lifestyle.

Visit the University of Twente – News Website to read the full press releases.

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