Research projects

Current projects

Despite extensive experience, knowledge, and skills of healthcare personnel, one in ten hospital patients experiences an adverse event, half of which are considered preventable. Overall, available evidence suggests that at least 15% of hospital expenses and activity can be attributed to addressing safety failures. Risks to patient safety are largely attributable to human factors, communication, and misunderstandings in teamwork. The aim of the COMPAS project "Comprehensive Multiprofessional Education for improving, distributing, and implementing Patient Safety and maintenance of workforce in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine (EMR)") is to develop and deliver qualification modules on patient safety, employee health, innovation, and leadership. This is done in close cooperation with the partners University of Liège and Maastricht University.

The COMPAS project is funded by Interreg Euregio Meuse-Rhine.

The care of polytraumatized patients is difficult and responsible. It is carried out in cooperation of a multitude of different persons from different disciplines and under great time and decision pressure. In particular, care requires efficient communication and documentation without loss of information. The goal of the TraumAInterfaces project is to develop an artificial intelligence (AI)-based system to optimize the flow of information. The system will analyze and structure spoken language in the trauma room. This is intended to support the trauma leader in his decision-making and simplify documentation. To develop this system, clinical simulations with University Hospital employees in realistic shock room scenarios have been conducted at the AIXTRA training center since December 2021. The communication of the team members is recorded and analyzed. This is used to train and improve the AI system. Furthermore, the simulations are analyzed in terms of content by the AIXTRA research team in order to develop a better understanding of communication problems that occur and to improve the processes. Within the framework of this project, AIXTRA is collaborating with a total of five other partner institutions from the fields of technology and innovation management, psychology, medicine, and information technology.

The TraumAInterfaces project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

An intensive care unit is a workplace of extremes. The work is complex and responsible; mistakes can have fatal consequences for patients. At the same time, the work is often physically and emotionally demanding for the staff. Stress, exhaustion and sick leave are the result, which in turn increases the burden on the rest of the workforce. In addition to the impact on employees, this also significantly affects the quality of patient care. The number of treatment errors is increasing, which is reflected in rising mortality rates, for example. The current pandemic situation is further exacerbating the tense situation in ICUs, with fatal consequences for staff and patients. 

ICU Support is a structured meeting concept developed specifically for teams in intensive care units to reduce the above-mentioned stresses. Through appreciative communication, managers and staff are motivated to discuss difficult but also positive situations in an empathetic, open atmosphere. In this way, stressful situations should be better recognized and addressed, work processes changed and overload avoided, which is an essential prerequisite for good patient care. The aim of the project is to investigate the effects of ICU support on the occurrence of intensive care complications in patients and on sickness-related absences of staff in intensive care units.

The COVID-19 pandemic posed massive new challenges to intensive care units in German hospitals. Especially during the first wave, hospitals had to react quickly. Staff had to be recruited and trained, and rapidly increasing numbers of critically ill patients generated a high workload, which increased the risk of treatment errors. The aim of the egePan Unimed project (subproject 3.1., funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research) was to compile an inventory of the issues of staff recruitment, staff training and error management during the COVID-19 pandemic and to develop best practice blueprints. This is intended to maintain the working capacity of staff in the event of a pandemic and to ensure adequate staff numbers in care. The project was carried out in cooperation with the university hospitals of Schleswig-Holstein, Munich, Leipzig, and Augsburg. A multicenter, online-based survey of a targeted sample of 152 hospitals nationwide was conducted. The sample was selected in collaboration with the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) based on the geographic distribution and size of the respective hospitals and individual COVID burden during the first wave. The results were presented during an online symposium on Nov. 25, 2021. 

The egePan Unimed project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Women are still a minority in surgical and related fields of medicine, and this despite the fact that a majority of women study medicine today. Why? And how can we support women on this career path? In cooperation with the Department of Surgical Intensive Care Medicine, these central questions are being addressed in the current research project Exciting - but not feasible as a woman? Attractiveness of surgical and related medical disciplines (FemMed). In the seminar, female physicians who have successfully worked in general surgery, thoracic, cardiovascular and neurosurgery, trauma surgery and surgical intensive care reported on their practical experience, their life paths and models, and provided important insights, support and tips on how these fields are also "worth living and experiencing" as a woman. 

Artificial intelligence has the potential to improve work processes and counteract the overwork of valuable staff. In addition to advanced implementation in industry, artificial intelligence is now finding application in hospitals and clinics. Nevertheless, we initially approach novel technologies with skepticism: the widespread integration of assistive technologies and their acceptance require a weighing of costs and benefits, dangers and potentials - especially in such sensitive areas as medical care. The aim of this Integrative Review is to provide an overview of the current acceptance of artificial intelligence by hospital staff in clinical practice and to discuss the factors and mechanisms involved. The results of this multiprofessional literature review will serve as a basis for further practical recommendations to improve work processes in everyday clinical practice, to support and relieve healthcare staff and thus to strengthen patient safety.

This project is a cooperation with the nursing science of the University Hospital RWTH Aachen and the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems (IAIS).

The topic of health literacy affects almost all areas of health care and is becoming increasingly important in our society. Health literacy is understood as the knowledge, motivation and skills of people to understand, evaluate and apply health information. However, in order to sufficiently build and strengthen health literacy, targeted support is needed, especially for vulnerable patient groups. The development of a website, the Health Literacy Compass, is intended to provide a low-threshold, accessible and easy-to-understand orientation aid that offers an overview of existing methods for strengthening health literacy. This is aimed at patients and their relatives as well as interested organizations. 

 The GEKOKO project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Health and is carried out in close cooperation with the partner project of the Center for Health Literacy Research (IZGK) at the University of Bielefeld. 

GALA is a cooperation project with a total of 12 partners from university and non-university institutions, including the AIXTRA of the University Hospital RWTH Aachen. GALA pursues the goal of developing and implementing new tools and models of work design and competence management, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the structurally weak region of Aachen, and to disseminate them on a sustainable basis. Within pilot projects of the application partners, potentials for technological and social innovations in the region are to be promoted. In its pilot project, AIXTRA deals with the topic of ECMO treatment and how this can be optimized with the help of suitable personnel development measures. Especially in times of the Corona pandemic, the high relevance of such a complex medical treatment as ECMO becomes obvious. At the same time, challenges associated with ECMO treatment are revealed.  

The GALA project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

The focus of the joint project "interaktionsKRAFT" is the development of training courses for learning movement sequences in a mixed reality (MR) environment. An innovative haptic component, based on electromyostimulation, is being developed to simulate forces and the effects of forces in order to expand existing interactive MR systems with primarily visual-acoustic components through physical interaction options. This will enable significantly improved immersion and more effective movement learning. Such location-independent training courses promote, among other things, motivation or therapy compliance on the user side and offer economic efficiency from an economic point of view, e.g. bypassing personnel bottlenecks.

The framework for testing the MR system is the development of a teaching-learning concept for two application scenarios of movement learning. The first application scenario pursues MR interaction for movement exercises in the context of active movement therapy as a sub-aspect of physical therapy. In a second application domain, the teaching of knowledge and practical skills of Basic Life Support in a single-helper scenario as well as the implementation with multiple helpers will be implemented in an interactive MR environment.

The project interaktionsKRAFT is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Completed Projects

SafePat was a project to improve patient safety in the Euregio Meuse Rhine. Here we worked with an international, interdisciplinary and interprofessional team from three countries. The project partners had set themselves the task of improving patient safety for all citizens of the Euregio Meuse-Rhine by means of cross-border cooperation. SafePat aimed to minimize the risks that occur in the context of medical care. 

The SafePat project was funded by the Interreg Euregio Meuse-Rhine program through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). 

Handoffs and handover processes are a common cause of delays and information loss in medicine. In the worst case, problems can lead to treatment errors. Thus, they have a crucial impact on patient safety.

The EU-funded international project "Patient" aimed at improving defined medical handover processes. As part of the project, we developed teaching concepts for our students and conducted studies on quality assurance and implementation.

The PATIENT project was funded by the Erasmus program of the European Union.

As part of the funding of an Innovative Teaching Project of the Faculty, a curriculum on patient safety and patient handovers was firmly implemented in the one-month block internship for the first time.

Emphasis was placed on the following areas: Integration of an introductory seminar on patient safety and error culture in medicine; Beginning of a basic lecture in the lecture schedule; Knowledge transfer in the area of patient handover during the teaching units of the block internship; Case-based practical training of patient handovers in the contexts of anesthesia, intensive care and emergency medicine; Structuring of patient/bedside exercises during the teaching units in the OR and ICU. The implementation was accompanied by a study.

The number of electrically powered cars on German roads has increased rapidly in recent years. Nevertheless, experience with traffic accidents involving such cars is still insufficient.

As part of the nationwide "SafetE-car" project, we set ourselves the task of making rescue service providers fit for use around electric cars and thus fit for the future. After all, the changed technical conditions still represent a major unknown for many with regard to the correct handling of the vehicle in the event of damage. For this reason, algorithms commonly used to date for the emergency care of seriously injured persons were examined in a multi-stage process to determine their applicability to e-car accidents. Possible adaptations were evaluated theoretically and practically and recommendations for trauma care were developed.