Virtual Health Agents

Virtual health agents are interactive characters that often have anthropomorphic elements to evoke responses that humans would exhibit when interacting with other humans. Set within the health domain, these agents can help both care providers and clients to manage people’s physical and mental health. Virtual patients, virtual nurses and virtual mental health coaches are all existing applications that show the potential benefits this technology can bring, such as accessibility, i.e. any time any place when offered on a mobile platform, and personalization, i.e. adapting interaction and services to the needs and desires of the clients and their situation. In the intelligent agent community, health is becoming an important domain. The IVA2014 conference had Healthcare as a special topic, attracting several papers. With ever increasing societal attention for affordable and accessible health care, interest for virtual health agents is likely to increase further. The design and development of virtual agents is often based upon our knowledge and theories of human-human relationships and human-human interactions. The objective of this approach is, of course, to copy the benefits of successful existing care practices into the human-agent collaboration. However, the downside is that it also incorporates the limitations and inefficiencies. It seems worthwhile to explore new theories, models and methods of human-agent collaboration. Such new approaches may be better suited to exploit the potential of technological opportunities and human’s adaptability, and to cope with technical and situational constraints. Such theories might help to go beyond the paradigm of replacing human health services with agent-based services in a cost reduction and efficiency improvement drive, by providing a paradigm of improving key processes and outcomes of health services.

The workshop invites researchers, designers and developers that are interested in the concept and development of effective virtual health agents, the interplay between humans and agents, and methods for evaluation. The workshop participants could have various backgrounds, such as artificial intelligence, human computer interaction, and psychology. The broader objective of the workshop is to strengthen the growing community within the field of intelligent agents that focus specifically on the health domain with its own set of constrains and opportunities. The workshop aims at creating a lively exchange of ideas with the aim of supporting the research of the individual workshop participants.

This is full-day workshop. Workshop members are invited to present their research that is followed by in-depth discussion of this work. Members are strongly encouraged to demonstrate their agents. Researchers that are interested to attend the work-shop are asked to submit a position paper of their work. These will be reviewed and authors of accepted papers will be invited to attend the workshop. In preparation for the workshop, workshop members will get access to the accepted position papers.

This workshop is a part of the 15th International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents, in Delft, the Netherlands. The workshop will take place on the 25th of August 2015, one day before the main conference.