Interview with Magdalena Smieszek, research associate at the Klaus-Tschira-Institute for Computational Cardiology at Heidelberg University Hospital
HiGHmed-Patienten-Dashboard. Copyright: Universität Heidelberg
View of the "HiGHmed Patient Dashboard". Copyright: Universität Heidelberg

28/10/2021. Magdalena Smieszek is a research associate at the Klaus-Tschira-Institute for Computational Cardiology at Heidelberg University Hospital, which is part of the HiGHmed consortium of the Medical Informatics Initiative (MII). Among other things, she works on the development of a dashboard for the visualisation of patient data. In the interview, she gives an insight into her work as a software developer.

What are you working on?

My work focuses on medical data analysis. My main projects are typically concerned with software development for data visualisation and analysis, such as the Apple Watch dashboard or the Medex data exploration tool. Visualisation helps to present data in a clearer way, allowing for a better understanding of the data, highlighting trends or outliers.

What is your motivation to develop IT solutions for health care and research?

My main goal is to better understand patterns in medical data that could be used in the future for better diagnosis and prognosis or to improve personalized treatments.

An integral part of my journey is to empower clinicians to conduct their own data analyses and hypothesis generation.

As part of the HiGHmed consortium you have developed a dashboard which visualizes health data collected via smartwatches. What is the aim of this web application and how does it work?

The dashboard was created to help physicians with the analysis of longitudinal data from the Apple Watch. Smartwatches are of general interest for staying in touch with patients. More and more people own smartwatches. Currently, these data are not used by physicians, for many reasons, but also due to the lack of appropriate tools and visualisation concepts. There is a need for tools that allow faster analysis and comparison of data from multiple devices simultaneously.

In which institutions and departments will the dashboard be implemented in the short and long term? Who can use it?

At the moment, we plan to use the Apple Watch dashboard in the HiGHmed project at all relevant partner sites. Moreover, several new projects have been initiated within the University Hospital Heidelberg. Evidently, this dashboard is open-source and easily accessible via our GitHub repository. We also provide docker images to ease deployment anytime and anywhere.  We hope to see many new users in the near future and welcome code contributions as this software could be relevant to any researcher or clinicians using Apple Watches.

What do you expect from the digitalisation of medicine in the next five years?

The digitalisation of medicine will propel us into a new era. We already see today in EU member states such as Estonia or Slovenia what a digital transformation of the health sector means for every citizen. Digitalisation will help to diagnose diseases more quickly and effectively. It will ensure a better quality of treatment, for example by, monitoring patients more easily or reminding them to take medication. It will be instrumental in disease prevention by driving our understanding of longitudinal patterns, which are indicative of a healthy life.


The interview was conducted by Sophie Haderer, TMF/MII coordination office.