Digital Twins in Healthcare: Conceptualisation and Privacy Aspects

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Sarah Julia Jeske
4. Semester, Digital Communication Leadership (Master Programme)
The digital twin technology is experiencing increasing popularity and is being applied in fields such as manufacturing, product lifecycle management, prognostics and health management, waste management, and smart cities. A digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical product, consisting of three main components: the physical object, its virtual equivalent, and the data connection between the physical and the virtual entity. Digital twins support the physical system regarding maintenance, prediction, and simulation. Healthcare is an up-and-coming, yet relatively uncharted and complex field of application for digital twins as the physical object is the human. This master thesis aims to explore how digital twins can be implemented in healthcare in a privacy friendly manner. Firstly, specific privacy challenges associated with digital twins in healthcare are identified. Secondly, the influence of the identified privacy risks on the implementation of digital twins is of interest. For this purpose, an adapted step-by-step process based on Requirements Engineering serves as the underlying methodological approach to identify essential prerequisites from stakeholders while uncovering the challenges that digital twins in healthcare pose. Within these steps, semi-structured expert interviews with six participants knowledgeable in the field of digital twins, digital twins in healthcare, and privacy studies are conducted. The findings gathered in the interviews are analysed using Mayring’s approach for qualitative text analysis and are interpreted in relation to relevant literature and theories in the field of digital health and digital twins. Finally, the insights are discussed critically and assembled into a model. The outcome is a visualisation of the digital twin infrastructure that includes the main components in the physical and virtual space, as well as their relationship with another. Additionally, the challenges and privacy friendly design strategies to counteract the issues are included. This conceptual framework of the implementation of digital twins in the field of healthcare acts as a guide on what needs to be taken into consideration when developing such technology and serves as a source for further research in the field of digital twins in the health domain.
LanguageEnglish
Publication date28 Jul 2020
Number of pages108
ID: 337457437