Research group at imec & Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Anouk Verhellen


Personal Description

With a focus on the development and implementation of digital health technologies, my career journey has been driven by a passion for innovation and equitable access to health and healthcare. Prior to joining imec-SMIT, Vrije Universiteit Brussel in June 2019, I gained invaluable experience as an Emergency Room nurse at UZLeuven and Kliniek Sint-Jan in Brussels. This hands-on experience provided me with firsthand insights into the pressing challenges faced by the healthcare sector today. The demands of an aging population, the increasing complexity of patient care, and a shortage of healthcare staff have heightened my awareness of the need for innovative solutions.

I earned a Master’s degree in Communication Sciences from Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 2008. My thesis on HIV and AIDS prevention at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) ignited my passion for health and healthcare, leading me to pursue a nursing degree in 2010. After obtaining a Bachelor’s in Nursing from University Colleges Leuven Limburg (UCLL), I successfully completed an additional Bachelor’s in Emergency and Intensive Care Nursing (UCLL, 2019) while working fulltime at UZLeuven.

Throughout the years I have actively contributed to various multidisciplinary research projects, including the eHealthmontior 2019 which examined the use of eHealth tools and services among Belgian citizens and selected healthcare workers (GPs, specialists, pharmacists, nurses, and nursing assistants). In the imec.ICON SARA project, focused on the use of Augmented Reality in Neurosurgery and Orthopedic surgery, I conducted in-depth research into surgeon’s requirements and their acceptance of this cutting-edge technology.

Currently, my research focuses on unlocking the potential of digital health data for primary (diagnosis and treatment) and secondary (research and development) purposes. In my research I am dedicated to addressing the social implications of digital health and data sharing technologies, ensuring equitable and ethically sound solutions, and advocating for the needs of all stakeholders. By applying my expertise in real-world use cases, such as mapping the Flemish eHealth data sharing infrastructure, or exploring future solutions for data sharing in Alzheimer’s disease and Multiple sclerosis, I aim to make a meaningful impact in the dynamic field of digital health.