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Research Group Dr. H. Morf

Digital Health & Healthcare Research

Head: Dr. med. Harriet Morf

One focus of the working group is the acquisition and testing of faster and digital diagnostic tools for joint complaints. The increasing demand and low number of rheumatologists leads to a significant delay in diagnosis, which can lead to irreversible joint damage. The goal is to address this challenge and improve patient care, e.g., by means of a new digitized patient treatment pathway "digital patient journey", which will enable more efficient, faster, personalized patient care and increase treatment quality. Traditional analog processes are to be meaningfully supplemented or replaced by online formats by means of digital health.

Improving patient care also includes offerings for the home that can replace on-site interventions. This includes digital disease monitoring, physical exercise programs for the home with digital health applications, and online sports groups with one-on-one coaching. In this regard, we are in close collaboration with the Liphardt research group, especially in recording physical activity on hand strength and gait parameters.

Translational research is conducted in close collaboration with patients, FAU Erlangen, international research partners, practicing physicians, industry and innovative startups. We research, develop and implement patient-oriented new digital health applications to improve current care deficits in rheumatology.

Our special thanks go to the patients, the treatment team and PhD students, without whom our research would not be possible.

  • Digital Health for Diagnostic Support

Due to scarce human resources and rare diagnoses, symptom checkers or diagnostic decision support systems (DDSS) are particularly relevant in rheumatology and represent an alternative to increasingly frequently consulted internet search engines. We are continuously developing and testing appropriate systems to facilitate early detection of rheumatic diseases.

  • Telemedicine and exploration of new digital treatment approaches

The omnipresence of smartphones opens up new therapeutic opportunities for physicians. The Digital Health Care Act (DVG) now makes it possible to prescribe digital health applications (DiGA) to patients. In particular, comorbidities such as chronic pain, depression, obesity can already be addressed. In clinical trials, we are looking at whether the use of digital health apps explicitly recommended as exercise therapy has a positive impact on patients' disease. We are also exploring flexible telemedicine care concepts in which patients are accompanied by video consultation and exercise coaching.

  • Telemedicine in exercise therapy

Physical activity is an important factor influencing quality of life and disease perception. But can sporting activity also have an influence on disease activity and disease progression? In clinical studies we look if sport in different variants (yoga, gym, theraband...) has an effect on the disease. Different objective diagonal instruments, such as sensors for gait, vigorimeter and ultrasound will be used to document the influence of physical activity on the skeletal and muscular system.

  • Status quo and quo vadis: Continuous market, user, usage and demand research

The accelerated and continuous transformation of digital health applications, the healthcare system, the technical infrastructure and society requires continuous scientific evaluation to identify deficits in care and innovative solutions and to overcome implementation barriers. We systematically identify and evaluate freely available health apps, e.g. already for patients with rheumatological diseases, inflammatory bowel diseases and psoriasis.
By means of online surveys, we investigate the acceptance, use, individual needs, and digital competence of patients and physicians with regard to digital health. By means of qualitative analyses (interviews, focus groups), quantitative results are meaningfully supplemented with detailed feedback.

Harriet MorfResearch group leader

Vanessa Bundle

Medical doctoral student
Lara GrubeMedical doctoral student
Paloma Alexandra Palm von Alten BlaskowitzMedical doctoral student
Sebastian RudolfMedical doctoral student
Stefan JakobiMedical doctoral student
Nick SöhndelMedical doctoral student


European Commission

2023 - 2025  Horizon-Projekt „SPIDeRR - Stratification of Patients using advanced Integrative modelling of Data Routinely acquired for diagnosing Rheumatic complaint”

ELAN-Programm, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

2022 - 2023 „Effect of Yoga-Intervention on Spine Flexibility and Mobility in Patients with axial Spondylarthritis“

Clinician Scientists Programm, IZKF, Uniklinikum Erlangen

2022 - 2023  Clinician Scientist Rotationsstelle

  1. Fuchs F, Morf H, Mohn J, Mühlensiepen F, Ignatyev Y, Bohr D, Araujo E, Bergmann C, Simon D, Kleyer A, Vorbrüggen W, Ramming A, Distler JHW, Bartz-Bazzanella P, Schett G, Welcker M, Hueber AJ, Knitza J. Diagnostic delay stages and pre-diagnostic treatment in patients with suspected rheumatic diseases before special care consultation: results of a multicenter-based study. Rheumatol Int. 2023 Mar;43(3):495-502.
  2. Vossen D, Knitza J, Klemm P, Haase I, Mucke J, Kernder A, Meyer M, Kleyer A, Sewerin P, Bendzuck G, Eis S, Krusche M, Morf H. Akzeptanz der Videosprechstunde unter Patienten/innen mit entzündlich rheumatischen Erkrankungen ist geschlechts- und ortsabhängig – Ergebnisse einer Online-Umfrage unter Patienten/innen und Ärzten/innen [Acceptance of video consultation among patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases depends on gender and location-Results of an online survey among patients and physicians]. Z Rheumatol. 2023 Mar;82(2):108-113. German.
  3. Labinsky H, Ukalovic D, Hartmann F, Runft V, Wichmann A, Jakubcik J, Gambel K, Otani K, Morf H, Taubmann J, Fagni F, Kleyer A, Simon D, Schett G, Reichert M, Knitza J. An AI-Powered Clinical Decision Support System to Predict Flares in Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Pilot Study. Diagnostics (Basel). 2023 Jan 1;13(1):148.
  4. Pachowsky ML, Morf H, Simon D, Schönau V, Valor-Mendez L, Knitza J, Fagni F, Engel K, Uder M, Hueber A, Schmidkonz C, Schett G, Kleyer A. Cinematic rendering in rheumatic diseases-Photorealistic depiction of pathologies improves disease understanding for patients. Front Med (Lausanne). 2022 Aug 3;9:946106.
  5. Truong MT, Nwosu OB, Gaytan Torres ME, Segura Vargas MP, Seifer AK, Nitschke M, Ibrahim AA, Knitza J, Krusche M, Eskofier BM, Schett G, Morf H. A Yoga Exercise App Designed for Patients With Axial Spondylarthritis: Development and User Experience Study. JMIR Form Res. 2022 Jun 3;6(6):e34566.
  6. Morf H, Witte T. Einsatz von Biosimilars in der Behandlung der rheumatoiden Arthritis: Ein Überblick [Use of biosimilars in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis : An overview]. Z Rheumatol. 2022 Mar;81(2):110-117. German
  7. Knitza J, Muehlensiepen F, Ignatyev Y, Fuchs F, Mohn J, Simon D, Kleyer A, Fagni F, Boeltz S, Morf H, Bergmann C, Labinsky H, Vorbrüggen W, Ramming A, Distler JHW, Bartz-Bazzanella P, Vuillerme N, Schett G, Welcker M, Hueber AJ. Patient's Perception of Digital Symptom Assessment Technologies in Rheumatology: Results From a Multicentre Study. Front Public Health. 2022 Feb 22;10:844669.
  8. Morf H, da Rocha Castelar-Pinheiro G, Vargas-Santos AB, Baerwald C, Seifert O. Impact of clinical and psychological factors associated with depression in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: comparative study between Germany and Brazil. Clin Rheumatol. 2021 May;40(5):1779-1787. doi: 10.1007/s10067-020-05470-0. Epub 2020 Oct 26.
  9. Knitza J, Mohn J, Bergmann C, Kampylafka E, Hagen M, Bohr D, Morf H, Araujo E, Englbrecht M, Simon D, Kleyer A, Meinderink T, Vorbrüggen W, von der Decken CB, Kleinert S, Ramming A, Distler JHW, Vuillerme N, Fricker A, Bartz-Bazzanella P, Schett G, Hueber AJ, Welcker M. Accuracy, patient-perceived usability, and acceptance of two symptom checkers (Ada and Rheport) in rheumatology: interim results from a randomized controlled crossover trial. Arthritis Res Ther. 2021 Apr 13;23(1):112.
  10. Kernder A, Morf H, Klemm P, Vossen D, Haase I, Mucke J, Meyer M, Kleyer A, Sewerin P, Bendzuck G, Eis S, Knitza J, Krusche M. Digital rheumatology in the era of COVID-19: results of a national patient and physician survey. RMD Open. 2021 Feb;7(1):e001548.


PubMed publication list of Dr. Harriet Morf