Mobile app to help patients with psychosis is a finalist of health technology awards
9 Nov 2017
In 2016, an app developed by scientists at the University of Manchester Farr Institute Of Health Informatics Research became a finalist at the annual AXA PPP Health Tech & You Awards. ClinTouch is a pioneering mobile phone app designed to improve the care and lives of people living with psychosis by monitoring real-time symptoms and reducing unscheduled and emergency hospital admissions.
Affecting one in a hundred people in the UK, psychosis is generally characterised by symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, confused and disturbed thoughts, or a lack of insight and self-awareness. Psychosis has a high relapse rate and can have a profound impact on day-to-day lives. As detailed in the Schizophrenia Commission Report (2012), 70% of costs associated with severe mental health disorders such as psychosis result from unplanned inpatient admissions. The report also showed that earlier intervention in psychosis episodes has the potential to save the NHS £119m over three years, as well as improving the care and lives of patients across the country.
Through a £1m award from the MRC Biomedical Catalyst Award, investigators at The Farr Institute of Health Informatics Research co-designed a digital interface for people with psychosis to encourage patients to manage their own care, improve the relationship between patient and doctor, and reduce serious episodes from occurring.
The team developed ClinTouch; a revolutionary smart phone app that acts as a real-time log to support patients throughout their treatment and to improve adherence to medication by detecting environmental and lifestyle triggers, while reducing the risk of relapse. By incorporating real-time updates into care pathways and alerting clinical teams of significant changes in symptoms, a personalised pattern of early warning signs for relapse emerges. Responses can then be discussed at the patient’s next appointment or immediate intervention can be taken by health care professionals if necessary.
ClinTouch has been built into an end-to-end system in two NHS mental health trusts, streaming summary data into electronic health records and making them available to clinicians and other health care professionals. The team has explored models to scale up the science behind the app with international leaders in the pharmaceutical industry. A series of MRC-funded trials have confirmed the project’s safety, validity, feasibility and acceptability and the team are considering expansion into a social enterprise. The project was also the subject of a meeting hosted at 10 Downing Street to discuss the impact that digital technology could have on improving mental health across the UK. The systems and digital infrastructure developed by the Farr Institute team that support ClinTouch are now platforms for related programmes including a project for treatment using digital cognitive behavioural therapy (MRC funded Actissist trial) through a mobile app.