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Relapse evaluation using smartphone technology

Together with UCL, we have partnered with the American healthcare innovation company Mindstrong to find a solution to monitoring relapse in adults with severe mental illness. Through this partnership we aim to find effective and efficient solutions to getting early help to patients with mental health problems.

Prior research suggests that catching a relapse early leads to better outcomes; this includes less distress for the patient, less disruption to their life, reduced burden on friends and family, and less expenses and demand on clinical and emergency services.

Detecting relapses early on is currently very challenging in outpatient populations. Self-report is difficult as it is resource and time intensive (for both the patient and the clinician) and people can sometimes downplay their symptoms.

Mindstong have developed a smartphone app called Discovery to tackle these issues. The app records the meta-data of how a person usually uses their phone: detecting patterns in swipes, taps, orientation, acceleration, and when/if calls or text messages are sent. These patterns create a “digital fingerprint”. Certain changes in this “fingerprint” can be associated with changes in attention, memory and executive function – which, in turn, could predict a relapse about to happen.

The Relapse Evaluation using Smartphone Technology (REST) project aims to work with patients and clinical staff to determine whether the app is acceptable and useful, and if long-term tracking of changes in use is possible. The project will identify any gaps or shortcomings in the patient experience, and help coordinate what patients are able or willing to do, with what clinical teams need to provide effective support.