Digital Therapeutics and Care at Home

On the 3rd June 2020, EHTEL launched the webinar Digital Therapeutics and Care at Home. It was part of the Imagining 2029 work programme, a programme building on a series of webinars and workshops – hosted by its working groups – focused on accelerating digital transformation while acknowledging the opportunities and challenges raised by the current COVID-19 crisis. This webinar belongs to the Innovation Initiative agenda for 2020: Exploring Digital Therapeutics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Coaches.

Research physiotherapist, Riccardo Re, showcased a neuro-rehabilitation example of digital therapeutics from the vCare’s project partner Casa di Cura del Policlinico in Milan, Italy. Focusing on work in the vCare project, Massimo Caprino, then talked about the vCare customised clinical pathway when carrying out home rehabilitation. Key points included: adherence to the care plan and patient empowerment.

A summary of the presentation is available on EHTEL’s website; CCP’s full presentation is available here.

Gap spotted: Opportunities for virtual coaches

vCare spots a gap: New opportunities for virtual coaches on patient rehabilitation

Led by Peppino Tropea of Milan’s Casa Cura Policlinico, members of the vCare team have mapped recent literature on the use of virtual coaching use in medical care. Their scoping review was on innovative practices.

Given the rapid increase in focus on artificial intelligence and data analytics, virtual coaches are now coming to the fore.

The available literature shows how virtual coaches are being used to engage and guide patients in their ongoing plan of care.

The materials available in three publishing databases, Embase, PubMed, and Scopus, were assessed: at the starting-point, they were almost 400 in number. The result was an overview of close to 50 publications. The focus was on studies with a medical or a clinical orientation.

Chief among the uses of virtual coaches were: managing weight and nutrition, and managing or self-managing chronic conditions like heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, and chronic pain. Encouraging physical activity is a main theme among today’s virtual coaches.

The range of virtual coaches covered “embodied conversational agents”/avatars, electronic coaching programs, smart devices, and support through apps.

With patients, virtual coaches can be used for many more purposes in the medical and clinical fields than they are today.

vCare hopes its insights into the opportunities that this gap offers “may inspire new ideas for future work [..] on virtual coaching.” Rehabilitation, in particular, the authors say, is “the great absentee”, the obvious missing link.

In total, a dozen authors from five institutions in Denmark, Italy, Germany, Romania, and Spain worked to produce this report. They come from a wide range of disciplines in medically-oriented universities, hospital neurological departments, and business schools and economics faculties. Collectively, it is their hope that their work enhances “constructive dialogue between bioengineers and clinicians in creating innovative technological platforms [that can deal with] with new challenges in the world of medical care.”


Publication date: 1 October 2019

Location: JMIR –

vCare at EuroPrevent 2019

Stefan Busnatu from vCare’s consortium member UMFCD will present the project’s idea for a virtual coaching system at the EuroPrevent 2019. EuroPrevent is the leading international congress on preventive cardiology and the annual congress of the European Association of Preventive Cardiology (EAPC) of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

vCare at Innovation Sprint regulation workshop

vCare contributes to Innovation Sprint regulation workshop

On 7th November 2018 at the Brussels Life Science Incubator in Brussels, three vCare partners took part in a workshop organised by Innovation Sprint. It was about: “Innovation uptake in eHealth with patient-centeredness and gamification. Regulatory challenges and opportunities”.

The scope of the workshop was to brainstorm the status of regulatory and ethical scenarios in eHealth, and how to get to market. State-of-the-art European Horizon 2020 eHealth projects (vCare, COUCHGOAL) got feedback on their work from a mixed disciplined audience.

Workshop participants

Sofoklis Kyriazakos – Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Innovation Sprint, coordinated the project presentations that showcased best practices and lessons learned in European projects.  Alfredo Cesario, Chief Scientific Officer of the company, moderated a “crash test” session with the three projects – its goal was to help the projects make good decisions and avoid bad ones.

Sofoklis Kyriazakos speaks at the workshop

vCare, like the other two projects, was offered feedback on its status and the barriers it will face when dealing with regulations at its exploitation stage. vCare technical coordinator, Dr. Hannes Schlieter said, “It is really great for us to consider, even a year into the project exactly what legal and regulatory challenges we will face going ahead.”

Lucia Pannese – CEO of Imaginary, presented “Savings and better QoL: Gamifying Rehab“ from her experiences in research and development (R&D), and commercialisation. Marc Lange, Secretary General of EHTEL, spoke about the expected transition of vCare from R&D into practice: “Virtual Rehabilitation Coach: a journey from the proof of concept to routine care“.

Marc Lange speaks at the workshop

The workshop outcomes will be summarised in a White Paper with contribution from all the three partners. The ultimate aim is to create impact on the part of research-based projects at this critical point of regulation in R&D.

Progress in Co-designing serious games

Co-designing serious games – their use throughout Europe and wider

Serious games are taking off. They are being used in Europe and beyond.

REHABILITY is one such suite of serious games. Co-designed by patients and specialists, it facilitates rehabilitation therapy. Both cognitive and physical therapies can be individually personalised, and take place in the home as well as in clinics or hospitals. The games can be played by people with neurological difficulties who are recovering from a stroke or who have conditions like multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease. A huge benefit is that the application is based on off-the-shelf affordable consumer technology: See also:

Rehabilitation games designed with patients

Based on proven European Seventh Framework Programme research and piloting, REHABILITY is today the solution of choice in over 20 locations in Italy and Europe and as far afield as Malaysia and Singapore. In 2018 alone, it has won three awards for its innovation and excellence.

Imaginary srl – a small company based in Milan, Italy – is one of vCare’s industrial partners. REHABILITY is one of the components aimed to be brought under the vCare service umbrella.

Imaginary srl reports its innovative practice online at the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIPonAHA) repository: The application shows excellent maturity, impact, and transferability.

The EIP on AHA encourages more announcements like that of REHABILITY. Knowing about these kinds of developments will encourage the scaling-up of rehabilitation solutions for active and healthy ageing throughout Europe!

vCare shows FIWARE’s enabling technology

vCare shows how to apply FIWARE’s enabling technology

The close collaboration between vCare, MYSPHERA, and FIWARE was clearly demonstrated at one of the world’s leading world Internet of Things (IoT) events earlier this week on 16 October 2018.

FIWARE is really important for vCare. The project wants to apply FIWARE since it is one of Europe’s most prominent and promising IoT platforms. Likewise – as FIWARE moves more and more into the healthcare domain – vCare will offer an excellent test bed in European settings for the use of FIWARE.

The FIWARE Foundation was a silver sponsor at the IoT Solutions World Congress. The foundation promotes an open source platform components that will accelerate the development of smart solutions.

Held in Barcelona, Spain from 16-18 October 2018, the congress highlighted applications ranging from healthcare to connected transport. One of the congress’s requirements was to present a showcase that uses the Orion Content Broker, FIWARE’s main generic enabler.

Dani FERRI from MYSPHERA demonstrating vCare at the FIWARE stand

MYSPHERA,, based in Valencia, Spain, uses IoT solutions to support digital hospitals and digital patients. The company is one of the prominent partners in the vCare project.

The Foundation invited the MYSPHERA company to showcase its recent technical developments at the congress exhibition. These eHealth advances are underpinned by FIWARE technology.

Jordi ROVIRA from MYSPHERA presented the proposed vCare solutions at the congress. The vCare project is already using a wider range of generic enablers provided by this standard IoT technology. More FIWARE solutions were shown in which vCare is taking a lead role.

CCP at “Connected Health Now” conference

vCare health professional introduces coaching enabling digital transformation

On 26 September 2018, Dr Massimo Corbo of the vCare’s partner Department of Neurorehabilitation Sciences of Casa Cura Policlinico (CCP), Milan attended the “Connected Health Now” conference, where he presented the vCare Project.

Dr Corbo introduced the vCare project, its objectives, the proposed use cases and main developments during a Round Table on “Hospitals and research: opportunities and critical factors in digital transformation.” Members of the round table discussed possible innovations for effective and sustainable health care occurring today.

Dr Corbo announced: “Future tools, like vCare, are key to digital transformation in health. It is really important to develop a multidisciplinary approach and co-design meaningful activities that may enhance and improve our health care.”

Dr Massimo Corbo (left) presents vCare’s plans for coaching

The main topics covered during the table were about how new technologies and new paradigms offer potential to:

  • Internet of Things
  • Virtual reality or augmented reality, including tools for health care professionals, citizens, and patients, for remote therapy and cognitive training
  • Big Data, which enables the implementation of Prevention, Prediction, Customization and Participation (the so-called “4P” model)
  • Blockchain, a change of paradigm for data and data flows
  • Artificial intelligence, which permits the development of new medical protocols end ethical approaches.


VCare received many shows of interest during the networking event that followed: around 70 persons participated.

The day was a highly stimulating one. It promoted the digital transformation of health. This growing phenomenon will have a potentially revolutionary impact on public and private health in the coming years. Fundamental to the day was the collaboration of clinicians and health managers, technicians, researchers, industries, and small- and medium-sized enterprises.

The event formed part of the Milan Disruptive Week Programme ( It was held in the new MIND – Milano Innovation District. The district originally hosted Milan’s Expo 2015. Now it is being turned into a science park focused on technological excellence. Fundamental to its success is the Human Technopole, an international research institute for Life Sciences, Healthcare, Biotech, Pharma, Agri-food, Nutrition and Data Science.

vCare partner’s success at SEMANTiCS 2018

vCare partner among the three best papers at SEMANTiCS Conference 2018

A research paper presenting the first results within the vCare project has been nominated, alongside two other best paper nominees, at the SEMANTiCS Conference 2018. Nicole Merkle of the FZI Forschungszentrum Informatik at KIT (working in vCare; second from right on the photo below) and Stefan Zander of the University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt presented their work on machine learning and semantic simulation in Vienna on 12th September 2018.

The paper draws on the chronic kidney disease pathway used in the vCare project. It demonstrates the practical applicability of a simulation framework in an Internet of Things context. It shows that an agent that uses reinforcement learning can improve its performance both during and after training – as a result, it makes optimal recommendations to prospective patients during their rehabilitation.

Entitled “Using a Semantic Simulation Framework for Teaching Machine Learning Agents”, the paper will be published by Elsevier/Procedia Computer Science. Temporarily, it is available under: See also our Publications Section.

The achievement sets a high standard for work in vCare over the coming three years.