Health & Well-being


Health & Well-being


How to let technology generate longer, healthier lives

Digital technology can help promote healthier lifestyles, create healthier environments, optimize detection, diagnosis and treatment of disease and well-being of patients, and advance the quality and efficiency of care, both at home and in institutions. Digital technology should be designed and delivered according to the needs of end users, aimed towards limiting inequalities in access to care. It should help manage the costs of care for populations of all ages. These and related societal challenges are addressed in programme line Health & Well-Being.

23 November 2017

Digital Society Research Agenda

11 December 2018

Interview Sally Wyatt: “Technical choices are always ethical choices too”

6 December 2018

First Digital Society Conference a Success

28 November 2018

Digital Society Conference e-zine


Academics who are working on finding solutions to societal challenges related to Health & Well-being


Aarnout Brombacher (TU Eindhoven)


Aarnout Brombacher is Full Professor of Design Theory and Information Flow Analysis. Brombacher has an interest in field-data analysis of complex systems in interaction with users and user communities, data analytics and the resulting customer perceived design quality models. His early career at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) focused on quality and reliability management, both in the Department of Industrial Design and the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He has extensive experience in industrial quality and reliability improvement projects and developing tools and analysis methods for this field. Later, his interests shifted to sports, activity and human health, using the increasingly available amounts of individual activity data to help create opportunities for more people to become active. He is currently member of the National TopTeam (advisory body of the Dutch government) on Sports and Vitality representing the 14 Dutch universities in this field.

André Dekker (Maastricht University)

I am a full professor of Clinical Data Science at Maastricht University and lead the GROW-Maastricht University research division of MAASTRO Knowledge Engineering.



Could you describe your own research in one sentence?
We develop big data infrastructures and artificial intelligence methods to improve health care.

What did you do prior to your involvement in Digital Society?
I lead a research team (~25 people) that performs clinical data science research in a regional, national and international context. I was also the head of research and head of IT in a cancer center in Maastricht.

What does an average day look like for you?
I don’t really have an average day. Every day is different. I bike to work or to the station, as I don’t have a car but travel quite a bit to meetings in the Netherlands and abroad and give about 25 invited lectures per year. I don’t have an office, rather I hot desk when I am in Maastricht or Heerlen with my research team where I mentor PhD students and other scientific staff, review manuscripts and write grants. Evenings and weekends I spend as much as I can at home in the old city center of Maastricht with my wife and four children.

What do you want to achieve with Digital Society in five years from now?
I want to achieve that society understands the balance better between risks of big data and AI (e.g. privacy, control) and the benefits (better health & well-being and more efficient health care).

Andrea Evers (Leiden University)


Andrea Evers is professor of Health Psychology and chair of the Health-Medical-and-Neuropsychology-Unit at Leiden University. After her PhD (cum laude), Andrea Evers obtained several personal grants for excellent researchers (NWO-Veni 2004, NWO-Vidi 2009, ERC Consolidator Grant 2013, ERC Proof of Concept 2015, NWO-Vici 2017) for her innovative, interdisciplinary and translational research on psychoneurobiological mechanisms and treatments for health and disease. Her research is characterized by a strong interdisciplinary focus, particularly due to connecting Social Sciences with Biomedical and Life Sciences, in addition to collaborations with Neuroscience and Humanities. In addition to her broad clinical and teaching experience, she uniquely combines fundamental and applied science in her translational research, by focusing both on basic research on psychoneurobiology (e.g. stress mechanisms) and translational research on screening and innovative interventions for somatic conditions (e.g. e-health tools). She published more than 200 international and national articles in her research topics.

Within the VSNU program Digital Society, she is one of the national chairs of the program Health & Well-being and connects her activities to several other initiatives. For example, as part of the Dutch National Science Agenda (NWA), she is one of the chairs (“boegbeeld”) of the route NeurolabNL. Moreover, she is also one of the chairs of the eHealth program as part of Medical Delta program within the LDE (Leiden, Delft, Erasmus Universities) collaboration. She is also co-chair of the profile area Health, Prevention and the Human Life Cycle, at Leiden University and Leiden University Medical Centre. Her research is also closely connected to clinical practice as part of her work as a Clinical Psychologist within the Leiden University Treatment and Expert Centre (LUBEC) of the Faculty of Social Science.

She has a very broad experience as researcher and therapist within the area of self-management for a variety of chronic somatic conditions and developed, evaluated and implemented a large variety of disease-generic and specific screening and treatment protocols that can be individually applied through the internet (ehealth). The main aim of her eHealth and self-management research programme is to optimize health care for a wide variety of patient groups by developing, evaluating, and implementing online screening instruments and self-management interventions that can be tailored to individual needs. The research programme encompasses a broad variety of projects developing and testing the effectiveness of digital screening instruments to select subjects at risk and offer them tailored interventions (e.g. online self-management interventions for patients at risk for adjustments problems to a chronic condition) using various applications (e.g. apps, games, e-coaching, virtual reality).

Edith Feskens (Wageningen University)


Professor in Nutrition and Health over the Lifecourse.

Hermie Hermens & Lisette van Gemert-Pijnen (University of Twente)


Prof. Dr. Ir. Hermie J. Hermens did his master in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Twente. His PhD was on surface EMG modelling, processing and clinical applications. He became Professor in Neuromuscular Control at the University of Twente. He was the initiator and coordinator of the SENIAM project, which had a substantial impact as it resulted in a broadly accepted worldwide standard on surface EMG electrodes properties and their placement on the muscles.

Hermie was co-founder of Roessingh Research and Development (RRD), originating from the Roessingh Rehabilitation Centre, which has grown now in the largest institute in the area of Rehabilitation Technology and Telemedicine in the Netherlands. He was also one of the initiators of the Center for Care Technology Research (CCTR), where he is now director Technology, being one of the 8 Centres of Research Excellence (CoRE’s) of the Innovative Medical Devices Initiative (IMDI).

He gradually switched his research area from Rehabilitation Technology towards combining Biomedical Engineering with ICT to create innovative remote monitoring and coaching services for people with chronic conditions. In 2008, he became professor Telemedicine and head of the Telemedicine research group, at UTwente, in 2010 he became director Telemedicine at RRD and visiting professor of the Caledonian University in Glasgow. Hermie is (co)-author of over 300 peer reviewed scientific journal papers, and many more congress publications, reflected in a high H-index (59) and over 16000 citations of his work.

He coordinated three European projects and participated in over 25 other international projects in the area of Rehabilitation Technology and Telemedicine. The present focus of his research involves smart automatic coaching systems using on-body sensing and personalised feedback, and intelligent context aware systems/services that support independent living of people with chronic conditions.

Presently, Hermie is coordinating the H2020 project Council of Coaches, focusing on disruptive new way of coaching using multiple artificial coaches and the recently funded Data2person project EDIC (exceptional and deep intelligent coach). He is the coordinator of the UT wide multidisciplinary research program on “Personalised eHealth technology”. Within the VSNU program Digital Society, he is one of the national chairs of the program Health and Well-Being.



Prof. Dr. Lisette van Gemert-Pijnen, full professor Persuasive Health Technology (University of Twente). Lisette has an appointment (adjunct professor) at the University of Waterloo and at the University of Groningen (academic hospital UMCG).

Describe your own research in one sentence
The research focus is on multidisciplinary development and implementation of interventions to promote health & wellbeing using persuasive coaching systems based on data from monitoring technologies to support self-management.

What does an average day look like for you?
Lisette coordinates the Centre for e-Health and Wellbeing and the Persuasive Health Technology lab. My daily work consists of supervising young researchers and managing of the Health Research Domain (faculty BMS, and Tech Med Centre UT).

What do you want to achieve with Digital Society in five years from now?
My Digital Society aims are:

  • Reinvent Healthcare with novel concepts to increase safety and to reduce health risks via smart, tailored and personalized feedback and decision support systems.
  • Improve readiness for independent aging and living. The aim is to contribute to a self-organizing society by innovative and adaptive coaching technologies, that are implementable in practice. Patients and citizens can use care and assistance that is accessible, affordable and usable through well connected systems (IoT), knowledge can be exchanged quickly through international networks, social media and supported by innovative concepts for social care (community care and value based services).
  • Establish a smart European knowledge infrastructure via innovative Life Long Learning systems for implementation of eLearning-concepts in HealthCare (blended eLearning) and in Education (eHealth MOOC, massive online Instructional technology).

Natasha Maurits (University of Groningen)


Natasha Maurits is Professor of Clinical Neuroengineering at the University of Groningen.

Could you describe your own research in one sentence?
My research concerns clinical neuroengineering: I translate a clinical neurological problem to a physico-mathematical problem, find a solution using state-of-the-art mathematical techniques and translate this solution back to neurology for application by neurologists, technicians and researchers from other fields. Examples of my research can be found at my website

What did you do prior to your involvement in Digital Society?
I am an applied mathematician by training and worked at my own company briefly after my PhD before joining UMCG in 1999. I’ve now been working at UMCG for almost 20 years, of which 7 years as full professor. Since January 2018 I am also chief scientific information officer at UMCG, making me responsible for the department of Information Management for Research, Education and Training (abbreviated as IM O,O&O in Dutch).

What does an average day look like for you?
There really is no average day for me, but when I am at UMCG I usually have a lot of meetings, with people involved in information management, research data management, IT, data science etcetera, but also with my scientific collaborators and PhD and master students. And then there is email …

What do you want to achieve with Digital Society in five years from now?
For me, the Digital Society research programme would be successful if we foster new collaborations leading to successful grant applications within and across themes. Hence, in five years, I hope the first results of those collaborations are in, and that they yield novel approaches to the data, privacy and digitalization issues that we as a society have to deal with.

Heleen Riper (VU Amsterdam)


Heleen Riper is a Professor of Clinical Psychology, eMental-Health and works at the VU University Amsterdam, GGZ inGeest (Research Department of a large mental health service organization in Amsterdam, the Netherlands) and is honorary professor Telepsychiatry at the University of Southern Denmark.

Could you describe your own research in one sentence?

The scope of her current research activities includes the innovative use of mobile health, social media and blended care for the prevention and treatment of common mental disorders. New methodological challenges include the use and evaluation of personalized psychological approaches, mobile ecological momentary assessments and interventions, and intelligent reasoning systems for modeling the virtual patient and therapist on the basis of big data.

What did you do prior to your involvement in Digital Society?
Over the past 20 years, her research focus has been on the development of eMental-Health interventions for common mental disorders and substance use disorders, the assessment of their clinical and cost-effectiveness and their implementation in routine practice in numerous national and large scale European projects. She has published over 200 papers and book chapters in the domain of eMental-Health.

What do you want to achieve with Digital Society in five years from now?
Moving the academic domain of eMental-Health to the next generation of digital and health care innovation from a person-centered and personalized prevention and treatment approach for common mental disorders and the implementation thereof in routine care.

Margriet Sitskoorn (Tilburg University)


Margriet Sitskoorn is a full professor of Clinical Neuropsychology (Department of Cognitive Neuropsychology) at Tilburg University in the Netherlands and is registered as a Clinical Neuropsychologist, Specialist BIG-registration (49050992625). She is the Health & Wellbeing programme leader from Tilburg University’s Impact programme. Within the VSNU Digital Society programme Health & Wellbeing, she represents Tilburg University with a specific focus on cognition, personalised care and creating data from both big- and experience data within the field of Health and Wellbeing.

Margriet Sitskoorn worked as a clinical neuropsychologist and cognitive scientist at several institutes in the Netherlands and stayed at Henry Ford Hospital Detroit, USA. Sitskoorn has received and continues to be awarded multiple grants from different organisations (e.g. ZonMw, KWF, Fonds Nuts Ohra, Czfonds). She was, amongst others a member of the Dutch Health Council’s Special Committee electromagnetic fields, a board member of STT foresight images of the brain, and is a member of the Supervisory board of the Dutch TopSportCommunity of the Netherlands. She also functions as a consulting editor for the peer-reviewed scientific journal Neuropsychology.

Sitskoorn has published around 150 international and national articles, books and book chapters to date and her books are translated into several languages. Her main scientific interest is in experience-based neuroplasticity. This research focuses on the potential to regulate and capitalise on neuroplasticity in the human brain using cognitive, environmental and behavioural stimulation. The goal is to improve cognitive and emotional functioning not only in patients with neurological disorders but also in healthy people. An example of her work is the Predict and Recover project, a large scale, multi-study research programme that focuses on the cause, prediction and treatment of cognitive dysfunctions in patients with brain tumours. This project is multicenter conducted over many disciplines, takes a plethora of variables into account and is funded by several organisations.

Sitskoorn is also interested in translating insights gained from scientific brain research into language accessible to the public at large and in integrating scientific knowledge into the field of education, policy making and business. She is the author of several bestsellers, participates in several television programmes, and she writes for several popular magazines in addition to her peer-reviewed scientific articles. She is also a frequently invited key-note speaker.

Programme coordinators

Karen Zegers, Johan van Soest & Rianne Fijten (Maastricht University)

Rianne Fijten is a senior scientist at Maastro Clinic

Could you describe your own research in one sentence?
My research mainly focuses on making patients’ lives better through data.

What did you do prior to your involvement in Digital Society?
I am a data scientist by training and currently work as a senior scientist at Maastro clinic on shared decision making, (FAIR) data sharing infrastructure and predictive modelling. Before that I did a PhD in predictive modelling using exhaled breath to diagnose disease.

What does an average day look like for you?
Thinking and writing about ideas, answering (a lot of) emails and working with people from a wide range of backgrounds (physicists, software developers, medical doctors, researchers)

What do you want to achieve with Digital Society in five years from now?
I would like to see that the life of patients across the Netherlands is improved in any way using digital technology. I have learned that technological innovation (especially digital) in health care is difficult. I believe that the Digital Society can help drive innovation closer to where it can really make a difference.

Julia Henrich, Roos van der Vaart & Sandra van Dijk (Leiden University)

Roos van der Vaart is an assistant professor at the unit Health, Medical and Neuropsychology

Could you describe your own research in one sentence?,
I am involved in a broad range of projects regarding digital health care, focusing on online screening, serious gaming, mHealth, and iCBT.

What did you do prior to your involvement in Digital Society?
My particular expertise lies in the development and implementation of these online interventions, with special attention to usability and adoption of interventions among both patients and care providers, for instance regarding digital health literacy skills.

What do you want to achieve with Digital Society in five years from now?
My ambition for the Digital Society program and digital health care in general, is to advance sustainable implementation of health applications in daily clinical practice. We need to exploit opportunities to use our research and knowledge on digital health to increase quality of care and to support patients, wherever possible and desirable. The Digital Society program seems like the perfect platform to work on this goal with all collaborators.

Annemieke Witteveen & Monique Tabak (University of Twente)

Annemieke Witteveen is a postdoctoral researcher at Twente University

Could you describe your own research in one sentence?
I work as a postdoc within the Personalized eHealth Technology program of the University of Twente where my focus is on oncology.

What did you do prior to your involvement in Digital Society?
Before this I studied Technical Medicine and Health Sciences, both at the University of Twente. In 2018 I defended my PhD on the personalization of breast cancer follow-up based on the risk of recurrence. For this I developed several (prediction) models with data from the nationwide Netherlands Cancer Registry. Part of my research took place at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

What do you want to achieve with Digital Society in five years from now?
The Digital Society program provides a great opportunity for the Dutch universities to work together in an easy and accessible way. I’m hoping that in five years researchers will know and find each other from different universities and play on each other’s strengths to achieve more comprehensive research with regard to eHealth and health and wellbeing in general. Also, I’m hoping that more eHealth technologies will have found their way into the clinical practice.


Monique Tabak is a senior researcher at Twente University

Describe your own research in one sentence
I am a senior researcher, with a background in Biomedical Engineering, at Roessingh Research and Development and University of Twente. Currently, my research line focuses on ‘Personalized eHealth Technology for rehabilitation’. Together with Annemieke Witteveen I represent Twente for the DSI.

What did you do prior to your involvement in Digital Society?
I obtained my PhD degree on promoting physical activity behaviour and self-management in patients with COPD through eHealth. I was and still am involved in many different national and international projects (e.g. BIONIC (H2020), InLife (H2020), Pride and prejudice (4TU)) in which we develop and evaluate eHealth technologies using a multidisciplinary approach and in close collaboration with care centres.

What does an average day look like for you?
Besides performing research, doing (invited) lectures, coordinating research projects and writing proposals, I am co-promotor of several PhDs and programme manager of the Personalized eHealth Technology research programme at the University of Twente. This is a cross-faculty multidisciplinary research programme in which we join forces on Personalized eHealth Technology from various domains. This means there is no average (or dull) day in the office!

What do you want to achieve with Digital Society in five years from now?
With the Digital Society I hope we can cross research boundaries even more, creating out-of-the box collaborations to learn from each other and together work on innovations to personalize healthcare.

Brigit Klever (University of Groningen)

Brigit Klever is a programme coordinator at the University Medical Center in Groningen

What did you do prior to your involvement in Digital Society?
After I studied Human Movement Sciences, I’ve worked in a completely different field for a couple of years. I was a customer experience advisor and complaints manager at an insurance company. Working there, I learned the value of customer feedback for improving communication, products and workflows.

What does an average day look like for you?
During the week, I usually talk to many enthusiastic people involved in research. I try to connect researchers with other researchers, set up meetings for grant applications, I go to interesting meetings related to digital society themes, and I help out colleagues with other projects

What do you want to achieve with Digital Society in five years from now?
I hope that in five years, researchers working in the field of Digital Society know one another, are aware of the other’s expertise and use that knowledge to collaborate and combine their skill sets to achieve an even greater impact on society

Mieke Schulte (VU Amsterdam)

Mieke Schulte is a postdoctoral researcher in the Clinical Psychology department of the VU University Amsterdam


What did you do prior to your involvement in the Digital Society?
Before I joined the Digital society, I was a PhD student investigating novel treatments for substance dependence and their neurobiological effects. As part of this research, I investigated the effect of online working memory training and monitored treatment efficacy with Ecological Momentary Assessment. Thereafter, I worked as a lecturer in the field of interdisciplinary social sciences and as a freelance thesis supervisor.

What does an average day look like for you?
As my position contains a multitude of responsibilities, I don’t really have an average day. Typically, I write papers, reports or proposals. I also collaborate with many colleagues to assist in the development or execution of several diverse projects.

What do you want to achieve with the Digital Society in five years from now?
In five years from now, I hope to achieve more effective e-health interventions to provide better tailored and effective care. In addition, I hope to have contributed to a closer collaboration between different research groups or areas, but also between scientific research and different stakeholders.

Anouk Vermeij & Karin Gehring (Tilburg University)

Anouk Vermeij is a programme coördinator at Tilburg University.





Stay updated by subscribing
to our newsletter.

You can subscribe to two newsletters:

  • A general newsletter on Digital Society
  • A newsletter with newsitems related to Health&Well-being

You can subscribe to each of the newsletters by filling in your email address