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An Enhancement for Remote Virtual Consultations in Healthcare Provision for Patients with Chronic Conditions

   Faculty of Engineering and Technology

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  Dr M McCann  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This is a PhD project.

Supervisors: Dr Michael McCann (ATU Donegal), Dr Vicky O’Rourke (ATU Donegal), Dr Karen McGuigan (QUB)

Project Summary:

Healthcare provision has seen and unprecedented shift in delivery modes that has been accelerated significantly over the past 24 months due to the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic. Remote virtual consultations and appointments have become the viable alternative to mitigate risk of infection spread from face-to-face engagements. This paradigm shift has presented healthcare providers (HCPs) with a range of new and unique challenges and psychological factors that can potentially impact the patient experience and clinical outcomes. This is particularly true for patients with long term chronic health conditions who were amongst the most at risk from serious illness during the pandemic. Online modality also presents a range of additional problems and inequalities around digital literacy and social deprivation impacts on patient engagement.

This study will investigate the challenges and factors involved in delivering the most effective patient experience and clinical confidence in remote consultations through a mixed methods study to identify these nuanced factors. Based on the findings from stages I & II, the study will develop a novel AI toolkit to provide insight and direction to guide HCPs to ensure the maximum effectiveness to enable positive clinical outcomes from their online virtual patient interactions. The project will involve a strong interdisciplinary research ethos bringing together the fields of data science, psychology, and innovation development to solve the complex challenges presented by this accelerated mode of healthcare delivery.

Aim and objectives and central research question(s).

Virtual consultations have become the go-to solution for managing patient care effectively during the recent pandemic especially for patients with chronic conditions, this shift in working practices is driving research to enhance solutions with advanced capabilities and to improve the patient experience and healthcare outcomes in these scenarios. Recent advances in AI technology are providing technological capacity to make virtual appointments and consultations more effective, efficient and secure. There are a number of applications of AI technology in the virtual space that provide a significant opportunity for research and innovation to advance the knowledge within both AI and digital transformation of healthcare workplace practices and gain a clearer understanding of the psychological impacts of this new paradigm in healthcare provision (cyberpsychology).


The aim of this study is to investigate the challenges faced by HCPs in the rapidly changing virtual workspace to identify the key engagement psychological behaviours and activities that result in successful outcomes and enhance the patient experience. Using this insight the project will develop an AI toolkit to provide HCPs with real-time analysis around current engagement, oratory skills such as tempo and rhythm and post-event analytics on sentiment, intelligent word cloud generation, overall engagement and comprehension metrics.

The study will assess the implementation to extend the knowledge, understanding, value and potential that AI solutions present to healthcare provision in the virtual environment.


  • Conduct a scoping review to explore patient and healthcare professional perceptions of remote consultations, related behaviours and patient outcomes; to identify opportunities for technology to improve outcomes for those with chronic illness
  • Review existing remote provision for those with chronic illness and how they may aid condition management from the patient perspective. Conduct semi-structured interview to engage with HCPs and patients to explore the needs and challenges to inform and shape study
  • Identify the key psychological behaviours and engagement measures for successful virtual healthcare provision and management of patients with chronic conditions
  • Investigate advanced AI techniques to deliver insight and enhanced productivity and value in virtual consultations.
  • Design and implement AI toolkit to provide real-time direction, insight and post consultation intelligence for HCPs.
  • Conduct follow-up supplementary qualitative research to review and assess the success factors of the AI solution provision

Research Question

What is the impact of AI technologies in enhancing healthcare provision in virtual appointments and consultations for patients with chronic conditions?

  1. What are the key factors and challenges to healthcare provision in these virtual consultations?
  2. Can the design and implementation of AI toolkit provide crucial insight to address these challenges, enhance the patient experience and improve outcomes?

Candidate Qualifications/Requirements:


  • Honours degree minimum of 2nd class upper division (2:1) in a relevant subject


  • MSc containing significant element of AI/Data Science or Psychology
  • Knowledge of healthcare practice and care provision

All applicants are required to demonstrate a high level of competence in the English language and meet the Institute’s English Language Requirements.

Application Process

  1. To apply for this PhD project, please complete the following application form and return to the [Email Address Removed] with all the relevant documentation by 5:00pm, Thursday 9th June. Please include "PHD.2" in the subject of the email.
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