Why does Integrated Care need ICT?

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In the last decade, there has been a growing interest in employing Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) with elderly people due to the ageing population. Especially interesting is the area related to people living with chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer or Parkinson, and associated disorders. According to the Alzheimer’s Association [1] more than five million Americans live with this illness, representing the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.A. in 2015. On the other hand, more than 10 million people worldwide live with Parkinson’s disease [2].

Given the impact of these maladies and other types of dementia, there are some encouraging facts [3]:

  • A notable increase in the amount of funding dedicated to ICT research projects targeting aging at all academic and economic levels.
  • Significant growth in the number of academic journals and publications dedicated to the topic. Related publications have significantly increased the quality of research, policy and clinically related fields.

Integrated Care ICT-based community still works without any truly structured tools, guidance or support to effectively adapt their products and services to users’ real needs [3]. In this field there are multiple professional profiles involved, including health and social care workers with background in several areas (neurology, psychiatry, psychology, patient associations … ).

The H2020 Project ICT4Life supports this team-oriented way of cooperation, where professionals must share information about – and with – the patient in real time so as to provide high-quality and people-centered coordinated care. On-line services included in the platform for those profiles are shown in the figure below:

ict blog

Figure 1 ICT4LIFE online services overview

The first objective of ICT4LIFE is the implementation of a platform that will optimize secure information exchange among the stakeholders involved in health and social care services. The platform should include very simple and intuitive interfaces with different types of devices (TV, Mobile devices, Web) as well as facilitate the human-machine interaction (touch screen, voice, gestures).

The second goal is to define a common data model for the diseases under study, establishing a solution to monitor features and test its feasibility on real scenarios. This process can be summarized as follows [4]:

  1. Define clinical targets of interest for the use of ICT.
  2. Select the type of sensors and their outputs.
  3. Use of ICT within clinical trials.

The third one is the implementation of a high level data inference module based on clinical measurements, behavior analysis and user-platform interaction, that will be able to help integrated health care human team. The effective use of ICT will result in improvements in the daily activities and quality of life of older persons [5]. There are three tasks in the work plan of ICT4Life related to this objective:

  • Multimodal fusion. A semantic ontology will integrate information captured by a multisensory system with continuous monitoring directed to defined events & functional areas [6].
  • Decision support tool. This task will help professionals in the treatment of the patients. Predictive algorithms of patient’s status, and personalization tools for patients will be implemented based on clinical rules.
  • Electronic Health Record, this repository will store all relevant clinic data for every patient. A user-interface allow querying this information, with different privileges according to the role in the system for the different profiles of the Integrated Care team.

The design process of such ICT systems and services involves the participation of different actors, including a wide range of users, developers and stakeholders, medical doctors, nurses, social workers, patients as well as programmers and interaction designers. Gender and ethical issues are being paid due attention in the development of ICT4LIFE Project.

The potential of Integrated Care barriers is increasing day by day. In addition inter-personal technological communications are being employed in an extensive number of disciplines in our days.

These two concepts are strongly linked in the last years because of several aspects: the aging in our society, the robustness of new technologies to monitor human behavior, and optimization in different ways of human machine interaction.

Above mentioned paradigms have created a new trend called eHealth where a wide spectrum of professionals can find interesting paths to contribute improving human quality of life. ICT4Life is making progress on this trend to fulfill three objectives previously exposed, and foster a new community where technical developments are directed towards clinic lines defined by health professionals.

 

[1] Alzheimer’s Association. http://www.alz.org/facts/

[2] Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. http://www.pdf.org/en/parkinson_statistics

[3] “Using virtual users to develop accessible ICT-based applications”, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, ScienceDaily, May 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160527091054.htm

[4] “Recommendations for ICT use in Alzheimer’s Disease”, Monaco CTAD expert meeting, December 2013http://www-sop.inria.fr/members/Francois.Bremond/Postscript/DraftICTv18Dec13.pdf

[5] Cordis – Community Research and Development Information Service. http://cordis.europa.eu/programme/rcn/665196_en.html

[6] “Multimodal Sensing and Fusion for Comprehensive Monitoring and Feedback: the Integrated Dem@Care System”, Briassouli et al. Supplement to the “Hellenic Journal of Nuclear Medicine”, vol. 18, pg 81-87, 2015.

Author:

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

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