Public defence in Acoustics and Speech Technology, Lic.Sc.(Tech.) Péter Pál Boda

Success of healthcare in the new data-driven era might largely depend on digital health solutions and the experiences they offer to patients.

Public defence from the Aalto University School of Electrical Engineering, Department of Information and Communications Engineering
A majestic California buckeye, or horse-chestnut, on the top of the hill along the Stanford Dish hiking trail
Multimodal data points can enable healthcare to view individuals more as whole-persons than as patients only, and to look wider and deeper beyond just the patient’s medical condition.

The title of the thesis: Meaning in a Wider Sense - from Conversational Interaction Technologies to Patient Engagement and Experience Design for Digital Health

Thesis defender: Péter Pál Boda
Opponent: Prof. James Landay, Stanford University, California, USA
Custos: Prof. Paavo Alku, Aalto University School of Electrical Engineering, Department of Information and Communications Engineering

Healthcare systems are increasingly strained by the continuous growth of patients with chronic diseases, the aging population, the rising costs, and the shortage of staff. As new care models aim to place the patient in the center of the care, and emphasis on the delivered value and outcomes, the thesis argues that potential success of healthcare in the future depends largely on the digital health solutions and the multimodal data obtained through them. These multimodal data points, such as the socioeconomic status, lived social environment, health behaviour, lifestyle choices, physical activity, and more, can be acquired from various sources, including patients’ own daily reports, remote monitoring, wearables, or other health applications. 

The central motivation of this thesis is to dive into the underlying enablers of digital health solutions and to examine how advanced interaction with seamless patient experience can be achieved. The thesis examines the role of interaction and patient experience as enablers of meaningful engagement, and how it can ultimately lead to empowered patients being able to participate in managing their own patient journey. 

The first part of the thesis focuses on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) based interaction technologies, as well as efficient modelling of speech, spoken dialogue, and multimodal interfaces. The second, applied research part examines digital health from the point of view of experience design, patient experience, meaningful engagement, and patient empowerment. 

The thesis exhibits several interaction solution examples, including multimodal journaling built for parents of premature babies. Furthermore, the work on user research and design-driven discovery of patient and parental engagement are presented. Finally, the thesis synthesises all the results through the relations of patient engagement, experience and empowerment, and presents a framework for computational care continuum powered by digital health solutions as enablers.

Keywords: human-computer interaction, speech recognition, language understanding, multimodal integration, user experience, evaluation, experience design, digital health, patient-reported outcomes, social determinants of health, patient engagement, patient empowerment, explainable AI, computational care continuum

Thesis available for public display 10 days prior to the defence at:


Doctoral theses in the School of Electrical Engineering:

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