Apr 29, 2014

Evidence, Enactment, Engagement: The three 'nEEEds' of mental mHealth

Originally posted on Digital Agenda for Europe
 
As a researcher in the field of mHealth & mental health, I welcome the "Green Paper on Mobile Health" recently published by the European Commission. I believe that this document can provide a useful platform for discussing key issues related to the deployment of mHealth, thereby contributing to bridge the gap between policy, research and practice.

Actually, according to my experience, citizens and public stakeholders are not well-informed or educated about mHealth. For example, to many people the idea of using phones to deliver mental health programs still sounds weird.

Yet the number of mental health apps is rapidly growing: a recent survey identified 200 unique mobile tools specifically associated with behavioral health.

These applications now cover a wide array of clinical areas including developmental disorders, cognitive disorders, substance-related disorders, as well as psychotic and mood disorders.

I think that the increasing "applification" of mental health is explained by three potential benefits of this approach:

  • First, mobile apps can be integrated in different stages of treatment: from promoting awareness of disease, to increasing treatment compliance, to preventing relapse.
  • Furthermore, mobile tools can be used to monitor behavioural and psychological symptoms in everyday life: self-reported data can be complemented with readings from inbuilt or wearable sensors to fine-tune treatment according to the individual patient’s needs.
  • Last - but not least - mobile applications can help patients to stay on top of current research, facilitating access to evidence-based care. For example, in the EC-funded INTERSTRESS project, we investigated these potentials in the assessment and management of psychological stress, by developing different mobile applications (including the award-winning Positive Technology app) for helping people to monitor stress levels “on the go” and learn new relaxation skills.

In short, I believe that mental mHealth has the potential to provide the right care, at the right time, at the right place. However, from my personal experience I have identified three key challenges that must be faced in order to realize the potential of this approach.

I call them the three "nEEEds" of mental mHealth: evidence, engagement, enactment.

  • Evidence refers to the need of clinical proof of efficacy or effectiveness to be provided using randomised trials.
  • Engagement is related to the need of ensuring usability and accessibility for mobile interfaces: this goes beyond reducing use errors that may generate risks of psychological discomfort for the patient, to include the creation of a compelling and engaging user experience.
  • Finally, enactment concerns the need that appropriate regulations enacted by competent authorities catch up with mHealth technology development.

Being myself a beneficiary of EC-funded grants, I can recognize that R&D investments on mHealth made by EC across FP6 and FP7 have contributed to position Europe at the forefront of this revolution. And the return of this investment could be strong: it has been predicted that full exploitation of mHealth solutions could lead to nearly 100 billion EUR savings in total annual EU healthcare spend in 2017.

I believe that a progressively larger portion of these savings may be generated by the adoption of mobile solutions in the mental health sector: actually, in the WHO European Region, mental ill health accounts for almost 20% of the burden of disease.

For this prediction to be fulfilled, however, many barriers must be overcome: thethree "nEEEds" of mental mHealth are probably only the start of the list. Hopefully, the Green Paper consultation will help to identify further opportunities and concerns that may be facing mental mHealth, in order to ensure a successful implementation of this approach.

Apr 06, 2014

Glass brain flythrough: beyond neurofeedback

Via Neurogadget

Researchers have developed a new way to explore the human brain in virtual reality. The system, called Glass Brain, which is developed by Philip Rosedale, creator of the famous game Second Life, and Adam Gazzaley, a neuroscientist at the University of California San Francisco, combines brain scanning, brain recording and virtual reality to allow a user to journey through a person’s brain in real-time.

Read the full story on Neurogadget

Stick-on electronic patches for health monitoring

flex patch Flexible Skin Worn Patch Monitors EEG, ECG, Sends Recorded Data via Wireless (VIDEO)

Researchers at at John A. Rogers’ lab at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign have incorporated off-the-shelf chips into fexible electronic patches to allow for high quality ECG and EEG monitoring.

Here is the video:

Dec 24, 2013

NeuroOn mask improves sleep and helps manage jet lag

Via Medgadget

A group of Polish engineers is working on a smart sleeping mask that they hope will allow people to get more out of their resting time, as well as allow for unusual sleeping schedules that would particularly benefit those who are often on-call. The NeuroOn mask will have an embedded EEG for brain wave monitoring, EMG for detecting muscle motion on the face, and sensors that can track whether your pupils are moving and whether they are going through REM. The team is currently raising money on Kickstarter where you can pre-order your own NeuroOn once it’s developed into a final product.

Dec 02, 2013

A genetically engineered weight-loss implant

Via KurzweilAI

ETH-Zurich biotechnologists have constructed an implantable genetic regulatory circuit that monitors blood-fat levels. In response to excessive levels, it produces a messenger substance that signals satiety (fullness) to the body. Tests on obese mice revealed that this helps them lose weight.

implantable_slimming_aid

Genetically modified cells implanted in the body monitor the blood-fat level. If it is too high, they produce a satiety hormone. The animal stops eating and loses weight. (Credit: Martin Fussenegger / ETH Zurich / Jackson Lab)

 

Nov 20, 2013

Call for Papers on Physiological Computing for Intelligent Adaptation: A Special Issue of Interacting with Computers

Special issue editors:
• Hugo Gamboa (Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal)
• Hugo Plácido da Silva (IT – Institute of Telecommunications, Portugal)
• Kiel Gilleade (Liverpool John Moores University, United Kingdom)
• Sergi Bermúdez i Badia (Universidade da Madeira, Portugal)
• Stephen Fairclough (Liverpool John Moores University, United Kingdom)

Contact:
s.fairclough@ljmu.ac.uk

Deadline for Submissions:
30 June 2014

Physiological data provides a wealth of information about the behavioural state of the user. These data can provide important contextual information by allowing the system to draw inferences with respect to the affective, cognitive and physical state of a person. In a computerised system this information can be used as an input control to drive system adaptation. For example, a videogame can use psychophysiological inferences of the player’s level of mental workload during play to adjust game difficulty in real-time.

A basic physiological computer system will simply reflect changes in the physiological data in its system adaptations. More advanced systems would use their knowledge of the individual user and the context in which changes are occurring in order to “intelligently” adapt the system at the most appropriate time with the most appropriate intervention.

In this special issue we call for the submission of cutting edge research work relating to the creation, facilitation of and issues involved in intelligent adaptive physiological computing systems (PCS). The focus of this special issue is on Physiological Computing for Intelligent Adaptation, and within this the scope includes but is not limited to:

• Applications of intelligent adaptation in PCS
• Mobile and embedded systems for intelligent adaptation in PCS
• Adaptive user interfaces driven by physiological computing
• Assistive technologies mediated by physiological computing
• Pervasive technologies for physiological computing
• Affective interfaces
• Context aware interfaces
• The user experience of intelligent adaptive PCS
• Ethics of intelligent adaptation in PCS

All contributions will be rigorously peer reviewed to the usual exacting standards of IwC. Further information, including submission procedures and advice on formatting and preparing your manuscript, can be found at:http://iwc.oxfordjournals.org/

Oct 31, 2013

Signal Processing Turns Regular Headphones Into Pulse Sensors

Via Medgadget

A new signal processing algorithm that enables any pair of earphones to detect your pulse was demonstrated recently at the Healthcare Device Exhibition 2013 in Yokohama, Japan. The technology comes from a joint effort of Bifrostec (Tokyo, Japan) and the Kaiteki Institute. It is built on the premise that the eardrum creates pressure waves with each heartbeat, which can be detected in a perfectly enclosed space.  However, typically, earphones do not create a perfect seal, which is what gives everyone in a packed elevator the privilege to listen to that guy’s tunes.  The new algorithm allows the software to process the pressure signal despite the lack of a perfect seal to determine a user’s pulse.

 3 sensor Signal Processing Turns Regular Headphones Into Pulse Sensors

 ear sensor Signal Processing Turns Regular Headphones Into Pulse Sensors

 

 

 

Sep 10, 2013

BITalino: Do More!

BITalino is a low-cost toolkit that allows anyone from students to professional developers to create projects and applications with physiological sensors. Out of the box, BITalino already integrates easy to use software & hardware blocks with sensors for electrocardiography (ECG), electromyography (EMG), electrodermal activity (EDA), an accelerometer, & ambient light. Imagination is the limit; each individual block can be snapped off and combined to prototype anything you want. You can connect others sensors, including your own custom designs.

Aug 07, 2013

International Conference on Physiological Computing Systems

7-9 January 2014, Lisbon, Portugal

http://www.phycs.org/

Physiological data in its different dimensions, either bioelectrical, biomechanical, biochemical or biophysical, and collected through specialized biomedical devices, video and image capture or other sources, is opening new boundaries in the field of human-computer interaction into what can be defined as Physiological Computing. PhyCS is the annual meeting of the physiological interaction and computing community, and serves as the main international forum for engineers, computer scientists and health professionals, interested in outstanding research and development that bridges the gap between physiological data handling and human-computer interaction.


Regular Paper Submission Extension: September 15, 2013
Regular Paper Authors Notification: October 23, 2013
Regular Paper Camera Ready and Registration: November 5, 2013