Dortmund | 13. February 2017
adesso AG is developing a comprehensive IT solution for the long-term care of patients with depression within the scope of the German Federal Ministry of Research and Education’s (BMBF) research project STEADY. It aims to identify when afflicted patients are heading towards a depressive episode early on, on the basis of pertinent indicators, which are recorded and analysed using sensors in the patient’s environment. adesso is working on this project together with the German Foundation for Depression Relief (Stiftung Deutsche Depressionshilfe) and Leipzig University.
This three-year research project is being carried out in adesso’s “Health” division. This is where an expert team is developing a prototype IT infrastructure with front end and back end solutions for collecting relevant patient data. It measures parameters that calculate bioindicators via algorithms. These bioindicators warn patients early on that their illness could be looming once again. Participants in the study are volunteer outpatients from the University Hospital Leipzig who suffer from “unipolar depression” and require special treatment.
They will be equipped with “fitness watches” that measure physiological factors such as skin conductance, heart rate, heart rate variability and corporeal activity, as these factors go through significant changes when the patient is on the verge of slipping into another depressive episode. The patient’s own mobile phone and a range of sensors in the patient’s environment will be used to gain information about important factors such as sleep duration and the patient’s general social and communicative behaviour. In addition to this, patients will keep an app-based “mood diary”, in which they will note down information about their mental state. adesso will then generate algorithms from all of these indicators and data that will provide a telling overall image of the patient’s current status. Patients are and will remain the “masters of their data” at all times, as they receive all of the information collected about them on their smartphones via Bluetooth and are the first to see how their corporeal symptoms are potentially switching towards depression.
If the analysis of the parameters collected then points towards a potential (unipolar) depressive phase, the IT solution’s “early warning system” kicks in. Patients immediately receive tips on their smartphones or tablets via an app about how they can prevent their health from deteriorating – for example through targeted drug therapies, sleep deprivation (a proven method for treating unipolar depressives) and medical care. If desired, patients can include their general practitioners in the IT infrastructure via a web-based front end and talk to them about treatments. For patients here in Germany who might otherwise have to wait for months for psychotherapeutic treatment, this is helpful support.
The STEADY project provides an intelligent IT infrastructure that can reduce the current deficit in medical and therapeutic care. Patients themselves are the focus of all of the measures; they alone decide who their sensitive data is passed on to and they receive important information for manging their own health independently. At the same time, the software solution currently in development provides the utmost in data security. Dr Stefan Buschner, the biophysicist and mathematician leading the project at adesso says: “With our infrastructure, we make it possible to transfer encrypted patient information, and the way we develop algorithms into parameters helps to identify individual risk constellations in patients.” Andreas Hitzbleck, head of the “Health” division at adesso adds: “We have already been able to present our approach at a number of conferences and the system has been generating a lot of interest among everybody involved. We hope to develop interesting contacts, especially in terms of health insurance providers and the care management initiatives they already have.
STEADY (which runs until the end of 2019) stands for “Sensor-based System for Therapy Relief and Depression Management”.