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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Dr Val Jones

“The opportunity for exchanging ideas, and time for reflection and abstraction that the IAS provides and nurtures, was beyond price.”

Dr Val Jones, University of Twente

IAS Fellow at St Cuthbert’s Society, Durham University (October - December 2014)


Dr Val Jones is a Senior Researcher at Associate Professor level in the Telemedicine Group, Biomedical Signals and Systems, at the University of Twente in The Netherlands, where she works on mobile health applications to support remote monitoring and treatment.

Dr Jones received a BA Hons. in English Language and Literature and a PhD in Computational Sociolinguistics from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Since then she has conducted research at the Universities of Newcastle, Stirling, Aberdeen and Twente in the areas of Computational Linguistics, Computer Science, Health Services Research and Biomedical Engineering. In 1992 Dr Jones was appointed project leader of the Patient Healthcard Evaluation Project, a health telematics project at the University of Aberdeen where she conducted a randomised controlled trial involving 15000 patients in Grampian Region. In 1996 she joined the University of Twente as a Senior Researcher to work on distributed multimedia applications in elearning and ehealth. In 2001 she initiated a new research theme relating to the use of Body Area Networks for mobile health monitoring and was jointly responsible for the scientific coordination of the European project MobiHealth. As technology advances this research theme continues to grow in importance and has spawned a series of European and Dutch research collaborations which won funding from the European Commission and the Dutch Government for the University of Twente and partners.

Dr Jones’ scientific publications include two books and more than 100 papers in Computer Science, Sociolinguistics, Classification Theory, Health Services Research and Health Informatics. In 2008-9 she was Visiting Professor at the University of Technology, Sydney. Her professional titles are MBCS, CEng, CITP, Eur Ing.

Dr Jones’ current research interests include Body Area Networks for mhealth, mobile and distributed Clinical Decision Support, application of modelling approaches to the design and development of mhealth systems and future possibilities for smart health enabled by emerging technologies such as Ambient Intelligence and nanotechnologies. She is currently involved in the European project MobiGuide and the Dutch project Telecare at Home.

MobiGuide – Guiding Patients Anytime, Everywhere develops an advanced Patient Guidance System which supports patients with chronic illnesses in the day-to-day management of their health. The system gives advice 24/7 whether the patient is at home, at work, out and about or travelling for business or holiday. The patient wears small sensors that monitor biosignals such as heart rate and blood pressure. The signals are transmitted to the patient’s smartphone and from there to a powerful "backend" computer system. Together the smartphone and the backend system analyse biosignals and context data and give personalized advice based on clinical guidelines. The system also helps the patient’s medical team to follow the best medical practise encapsulated in the guidelines. During the project this intelligent decision support system is piloted on patients with specific chronic illnesses, namely atrial fibrillation and gestational diabetes.

Dr Jones believes in the importance of taking a multidisciplinary approach to research challenges involving people, technology and society. Whilst at the IAS at Durham she will work with leading researchers at Durham and other collaborators in the North East to investigate the opportunities and challenges offered by the future prospect of Personalised Telemedicine.

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Smart but Small (and Disappearing): the future of mobile health systems

5th November 2014, 17:30 to 18:30, Room PG20, Pemberton Building, Palace Green
The advent of wireless communications and mobile computing together with miniaturization of medical sensors enabled development of the first generation of mobile health (mhealth) systems. At the University of Twente Body Area Network (BAN) technology is applied in mHealth research with the aim of providing tele-monitoring and tele-treatment services. A health BAN incorporates devices such as a PDA or smartphone which acts as a processing, storage and communications platform, sensors for measuring biosignals and other devices such as cameras, microphones, actuators and alarm buttons. The BAN is worn by the patient and provides mHealth services 24/7, wherever the patient is. The emergence of new technologies such as wearable technology, implants and (bio)nanotechnology dramatically increases the potential of, and also the challenges associated with mHealth systems. In this lecture Dr Val Jones will outline research into mHealth applications of BANs, illustrated by examples from emergency medicine and other clinical settings, and present one vision of the future of mHealth where the emergent modes of delivery of personalized healthcare are characterized by disappearance of BAN functionality into the environment, into everyday objects and into our bodies themselves. She will conclude by discussing some of the challenges posed by the prospect of large-scale roll-out of mHealth services to the population.

Listen to the lecture in full.

Dr Val Jones Publications

Jones, V (2014), 'International visitors spend time with the service', Safer Times, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, Winter 2014, p.8.

Jones, V., Patterson, J (2014) 'Advanced ICT for Emergency Services' , On the Bell, The Journal of the Emergency Services, Winter 2014.

Jones, V., Patterson, J (2014), Advanced ICT for Emergency Services, In Attendance, The Magazine of the British Firefighter, Winter 2014.

IAS Insights Paper


Changes in the age distribution of the population and increased prevalence of chronic illnesses, together with a shortage of health professionals and other resources, will increasingly challenge the ability of national healthcare systems to meet rising demand for services. Large-scale use of eHealth and mHealth services enabled by advances in ICT are frequently cited as providing part of the solution to this crisis in future provision. As part of this picture, self-monitoring and remote monitoring of patients, for example by means of smartphone apps and body-worn sensors, is on the way to becoming mainstream. In future, each individual’s personal health system may be able to access a large number of devices, including sensors embedded in the environment as well as in-body smart medical implants, in order to provide (semi-)autonomous health-related services to the user. This article presents some examples of mHealth systems based on emerging technologies, including body area networks (BANs), wireless and mobile technologies, miniature body-worn sensors and distributed decision support. Applications are described in the areas of management of chronic illnesses and management of (large-scale) emergency situations. In the latter setting BANs form part of an advanced ICT system proposed for future major incident management; including BANs for monitoring casualties and emergency services personnel during first response. Some challenges and possibilities arising from current and future emerging mHealth technologies, and the question of how emergence theory might have a bearing on understanding these challenges, is discussed here.

Insights Paper