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Kick-off symposium of Academic Collaborative Center for Digital Health & Mental Wellbeing focuses on co-creation

Published: 21st June 2023 Last updated: 21st June 2023

At the kick-off symposium of the Academic Collaborative Center for Digital Health & Mental Wellbeing on 13 June, scientists and social partners together took a significant step in the development of a cooperation agenda for the Center. The bottom-up approach, in which co-creation is used to decide what research questions should receive attention, is characteristic of the working method adopted by the University-wide Academic Collaborative Centers.

The goal of the University-wide Academic Collaborative Centers is to create an interdisciplinary ecosystem that engenders impact and innovation and in which science responds to the current issues in society. Academic leads Emiel Krahmer and Inge Bongers call this ‘science with the windows wide open’, referring to the 2022 report by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences on scientific research with impact. With this kick-off symposium the Academic Collaborative Center for Digital Health & Mental Wellbeing has taken a significant step in that regard. 

Mixed audience 

The ultimate aim of the Academic Collaborative Center for Digital Health & Mental Wellbeing is to enter into a cooperation agenda with around a dozen social partners. The symposium gave scientists and current and potential partners the opportunity to get to know each other and explore the four provisional key subjects. The attendees were a very mixed group, with professionals from the mental health sector, insurance providers, hospitals, and data centers, but also family doctors and developers of apps and online platforms, for example. Academia was well represented too. There were researchers from Tilburg University with expertise in the field of ethics, psychology, epidemiology, communication, law, data science, linguistics, statistics, and medical science. 

“Over the past year we have had many discussions, both within the university and outside it, with a large variety of parties from civil society,” says Emiel Krahmer, one of the academic leads. “It’s good to see that the subject matter of this Academic Center clearly resonates and it’s also interesting to see how similar research questions are raised in so many very different places.” 

Exploring four subjects 

Working in mixed groups, the participants exchanged ideas on four key subjects: Data and digitization, Prevention and self-monitoring, Technological developments and evaluation, and Policy and practical implementation. The objective was to find out in what areas there is still a dearth of important knowledge. And it emerged that the precise long-term effects of eHealth need to be mapped better, that it is not clear enough who is actually responsible for the maintenance and quality of eHealth applications, and that making digital tools life-proof is proving challenging. It also became apparent that, although more and more data are available, there needs to be more clarity about the quality of these data and about how they can be communicated in a meaningful manner to many different stakeholders. 

Next steps 

After the summer, further refinements will be made to the cooperation agenda in consultation with partners and prospective partners. These will include hospitals, mental health care institutions, the municipality and province, e-health companies, technology developers, patient groups, family doctors, company health networks, research institutes, and healthcare insurers. The outcomes of the initial symposium will be included in the agenda.  

The period 2023-2024 will be used to expand and consolidate the network, to agree a cooperation agenda and to initiate research projects. From 2025, the focus will be on further expansion of the cooperation agenda, not only in terms of conducting research, but also with regard to teaching, exchanging knowledge, and implementing knowledge.  

Would you like to be part of the network? 

Do any of the four subjects mentioned relate to your expertise and would you like to find out whether collaboration within the ecosystem of the Academic Collaborative Center for Digital Health & Mental Wellbeing is a good fit for you? Just contact project manager Esther van Vliet. You could also subscribe without obligation to the newsletter of the University-wide Academic Collaborative Centers.