Clockwork: The Solution that Supports Everyday Life of Shift Workers is Being Tested in Portuguese Hospitals

A pilot study coordinated by researchers from FhP-AICOS (Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS) is encouraging healthcare shift workers to become aware of their physical activity and sleep rhythms, and to reflect about their work and lifestyle, using technology. Clockwork, a tech solution created to achieve this, is already being tested in Portugal at CUF hospitals, and it will get its debut in Hungary soon.

Most people work between 8:00 and 18:00 on week days, but healthcare shift workers engage in work activities in less orthodox schedules. Health professionals often start shifts at 8 p.m. and end them at 8 a.m., which can create a misalignment between their circadian rhythm (the body's internal clock) and the outside world.

Shift workers report the worst work-life balance, suffer from fatigue, and are more prone to develop a number of health conditions, including sleep disorders, peptic ulcer disease, or coronary heart disease.

That’s why, at the start of the project, researchers at FhP-AICOS posed the question: how can technology support and improve the lives of shift workers? The answer? Technology can’t fix an out-of-sync biological clock, but it can make people more aware of their habits and encourage self-care.

In Portugal, the pilot study is being used by 5 shift workers, among nurses and nurse assistants of CUF hospitals (Grupo José de Mello Saúde). The solution is going to be tested over a two-month period in which participants are interviewed multiple times, to understand the impact of the system.

Clockwork is a solution composed by a smart badge and a smartphone application for shift workers, and a Box for measuring environmental conditions, such as light exposure, temperature and noise. The smart badge monitors activity and light exposure using accelerometers and light sensors. The collected data is presented to the users in an app, where they can also log on their work and sleep schedule, so that they can be aware of their physical condition and sleep rhythms.

The ultimate goal is to support self-understanding and for people to better practice regulation strategies in their daily lives. Researchers expect, at the end of the pilot tests, that the participants will be better aware of their habits and rhythms, and, in this way, more informed to take self-care decisions regarding their health.

Although not part of this pilot trial, researchers are also developing a smart lamp that can help users becoming more alert or sleepy, by mimicking the cues that day light gives to our bodies. The smart lamp will be controlled by the smartphone and will have personalized light intervention plans for each user.

Also in the works is an analysis system for sleep specialists and health and safety technicians, allowing them to analyse the data of shift workers, in order to detect early health issues before they become problematic.

Clockwork is developed by a consortium that joins 5 countries, Portugal, Austria, Hungary, Italy, and Spain. Besides Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS and José Mello Saúde, the consortium includes Ab.Acus, Grado Zero, BCB, KOHS, RK TECH.

About Fraunhofer Portugal

The Associação Fraunhofer Portugal Research (Fraunhofer Portugal), is a non-profit private association founded by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the largest organization for applied research in Europe. Fraunhofer Portugal promotes and coordinates the cooperation between its research centers, other research institutions and Industry partners, with the objective of undertaking applied research of direct utility to private and public enterprises and of wide benefit to society.

About Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS

The Fraunhofer Portugal Research Center for Assistive Information and Communication Solutions (Fraunhofer AICOS) is the first research center operated by Associação Fraunhofer Portugal Research (Fraunhofer Portugal), located in Porto. Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS focuses its activity in the area of assistive information and communication solutions, working with companies interested in outsourcing/co-developing their applied research projects. Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS offers specialized competences centred on the improvement of end-user experience and usability of applications, contributing with its applied research solutions to the market success of its client’s products and services.

Most Popular Now

AI Helps Physicians Better Assess the Ef…

In a small but multi-institutional study, an artificial intelligence (AI)-based system improved providers' assessments of whether patients with bladder cancer had complete response to chemotherapy before a radical cystectomy (bladder...

Smartwatches and Fitness Bands Reveal In…

A new digital health study by researchers at Scripps Research shows how data from wearable sensors, such as smartwatches and fitness bands, can track a person’s physiological response to the...

AI may Detect Earliest Signs of Pancreat…

An artificial intelligence (AI) tool developed by Cedars-Sinai investigators accurately predicted who would develop pancreatic cancer based on what their CT scan images looked like years prior to being diagnosed...

Open Call U4H-2022-PJ2: Call for Proposa…

The Ukraine crisis has an unprecedented impact on the mental health of the displaced people in the EU coming from Ukraine. The conflict and experiences of people in war zones...

AI Reduces Miss Rate of Precancerous Pol…

Artificial intelligence reduced by twofold the rate at which precancerous polyps were missed in colorectal cancer screening, reported a team of international researchers led by Mayo Clinic. The study is...

Medical Valley EMN & Volitan Global …

The two healthcare innovation experts Medical Valley EMN and Volitan Global strengthen their existing inbound- and outbound activities through a strategic partnership. The aim is to offer companies access to...

DMEA - Connecting Digital Health Opens w…

26 - 28 April 2022, Berlin, Germany. What plans does the new federal government have concerning the digital transformation of the healthcare sector? What are the initial experiences of doctors regarding...

AI can Predict Probability of COVID-19 v…

Testing shortages, long waits for results, and an over-taxed health care system have made headlines throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. These issues can be further exacerbated in small or rural communities...

Using AI to Detect Cancer from Patient D…

A new way of using artificial intelligence to predict cancer from patient data without putting personal information at risk has been developed by a team including University of Leeds medical...

Oulu University Hospital Expands Partner…

Siemens Healthineers and Oulu University Hospital in Finland have entered a strategic partnership for the next ten years, adding to an existing radiotherapy collaboration to jointly expand and modernize the...

Positive Conclusion to DMEA - Connecting…

26 - 28 April 2022, Berlin, Germany. After three days DMEA, Europe's leading digital health event, came to a successful conclusion - with around 11,000 visitors, more than 500 exhibitors and...

AI-Enabled ECGs may Identify Patients at…

Atrial fibrillation, the most common cardiac rhythm abnormality, has been linked to one-third of ischemic strokes, the most common type of stroke. But atrial fibrillation is underdiagnosed, partly because many...