Digital tools to improve health of sailors on merchant ships

Hamburg-based e-learning platform and software modules to improve health at sea
14 March 2022
Feeder vessel

The results of  the EU-funded interdisciplinary "E-Healthy Ship" project to improve health management on vessels with no doctors aboard were presented Tuesday (March 1, 2022). The project targets shipping companies in particular as more than 1.5 million people worldwide work as seafarers, according to the German Seamen's Mission.

Doctor examines sailor aboard merchant ship
© e-healthy ship
Gathering data on health

Health data - basis of digital tools

The Hamburg-based Central Institute for Occupational and Maritime Medicine (ZfAM), which is responsible for the project, said it first drafted questionnaires and explored suitable scientific methods in 2017. A year later, it began gathering data such as UV exposure, sleep and fitness levels, work and exercise and the blood data of crews aboard ships operated by  shipping companies in Hamburg. Based thereon, the e-learning platform "Crewhealthy" and software modules for the maritime computer programme "Cloud Fleet Manager" emerged.

E-learning platform to advise about health issues

The e-learning platform will include visually appealing tips on nutrition, exercise, mental health, sleep and relaxation techniques. Learning courses, weekly quizzes, a cookbook, and a food ordering tool are also part of the offer, ZfAM said. To encourage the regular use of the platform, shipping companies could opt to use an individual performance-based evaluation according to points.

Software modules for digital health management 

ZfAM's team developed new health-related modules for the existing "Cloud Fleet Manager" application designed by Hanseaticsoft in Hamburg. Digital medical records will be kept on board, and medications will be managed and dispensed aboard the ship. Crew members would  be able to access their own health files and view all the related information.

Transferring knowledge from science to industry

Prof. Dr. Volker Harth, Director of ZfAM, expressed satisfaction withe the project: "The E-Healthy Ship project has proven that the range of health promotion and health protection on board can be significantly expanded through digital learning and digitally enabled interaction." The project's interdisciplinary structure had made an exemplary contribution to the exchange between business and science, said Anna Gallina, Senator for Justice. The total volume of the project came to some EUR 1.8 million with funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Ministry for Health and Consumer Protection in Hamburg and various partners.
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Central Institute for Occupational Medicine and Maritime Medicine (ZfAM)

ZfAM is part of the Ministry for Justice in Hamburg and is closely linked to the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Hamburg. The  institute is tasked with scientific and practical research to gain in-depth knowledge about the effect of work on people's health.