Healthy and Safe Aging Research Agenda


WIHSE was awarded an Engineering Research Center (ERC) Planning Grant through the National Science Foundation.  We proposed to develop an ERC for Healthy and Safe Aging (ERC-HSA) that engages multiple disciplines (engineering, health sciences) and older adults and their caregivers to develop older-care-application-specific smart sensing technologies and integrate them into the overall coordinated older adult care system. Integrated in the newly created Wisconsin Institute for Healthcare Systems Engineering at UW-Madison, the ERC-HSA benefits from complementary expertise of researchers at other Universities. During the ERC planning stage, we worked with various University and local groups to develop strategies and programs aimed at enhancing diversity of our future students and addressing ageism, i.e. biases targeted at older adults. We also worked on building stronger ties with the health technology industry in the Greater Madison area as well as along the “Health Highway”, a 600-mile Midwestern stretch that spans four states and represents a growing healthcare ecosystem.

Two roundtables were organized during the planning stage to develop the innovative convergent research program and create opportunities for conversations among researchers from various backgrounds.  The two-hour roundtable meetings occurred on November 19 and December 14, 2018.  A total of 56 participants attended one or both roundtables from the UW, participating non-lead universities and from several health care organizations and health technology companies. Three thrust areas and five testbeds along with a list of diverse researchers were identified. Significant interest in building new collaborations emerged at the WIHSE ERC roundtables with participating industry companies.  The agendas follow:

Roundtable 1
Agenda: NSFERCHSA Roundtable 1 Fall 2018

Roundtable 2
Agenda: NSFERCHSA Roundtable 2 December 2018

Although the ERC-HSA preproposal was not selected for the next stage, we continue to develop a convergent research agenda organized around expertise in sensor technologies, data analytics and system design that combines deep knowledge about aging care to develop technologies that effectively address the societal problem of healthy and safe aging. With consulting advice of experts in strategic planning, team science, diversity and aging, we coordinate various activities, including targeted roundtables and building structured relationships with industry.

The 2020 WIHSE conference is scheduled for Monday, May 11, 2020 at Union South, Varsity Hall in Madison, WI.  The conference theme is ‘Engineering Healthcare Systems for Vulnerable Populations’ and this builds on our NSF ERC HSA planning effort.  We will focus on making a difference for vulnerable populations; particularly older adults, children, patients with multiple chronic conditions, and those in understudied and rural populations.  This conference provides a unique opportunity to further engage with researchers and industry interested in developing innovative engineering research on healthy and safe aging.  More information is coming soon at: 2020 WIHSE Conference