Supporting patients’ quality of life with assistive technology

The European Union’s Framework for Research and Innovation (Horizon 2020) funds projects that not only meet rigorous research standards, but also strive to address societal challenges. Each of these projects include partners from diverse sectors and hail from different disciplines. For example, they range from the social sciences and humanities to the medical sciences.

TeNDER and FAITH both fall under the latter category. For the next three years, they will pilot assistive technologies supporting the quality of life of different types of patients.

TeNDER: an integrated care model to manage multi-morbidity

TeNDER will pilot an integrated care approach for people affected by Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s (and other forms of dementia), and cardiovascular disease. Using familiar and accessible tools and applications, TeNDER will help patients stay connected and feel safe in their environments. For example, health bands that monitor vitals and affective recognition software will alert a patient’s health and social care system to potential or ongoing health crises.

Other services will assist patients in their day-to-day lives. This may mean, for example, helping them connect to local pharmacies, to cleaning and food delivery services, and so on. TeNDER does not replace patients’ contact with those who surround them. Rather, it helps link their environment to support their independence.

FAITH: intelligent post-cancer support with Artificial Intelligence

Harnessing the potential of Artificial Intelligence, FAITH will develop and pilot an application that identifies and analyses depression markers in people that have undergone cancer treatment. The project’s primary goal is to help patients be more aware of their mental health situation. This allows them the possibility to improve their quality of life.

FAITH will collect and monitor a range of health indicators. By analysing them, FAITH can infer information about the mental status of a person in a non-intrusive way. However, it does not aim to replace clinicians at all. Rather, it works in support of clinicians, providing them an additional tool for their practice.

Supporting quality of life

Over the course of three years, TeNDER and FAITH will work to support the quality of life of different types of patients in diverse settings. Both consortia also aim to make their approaches fit for widespread implementation. This way, they can benefit patients beyond the scope of the projects. We look forward to collaborating throughout this undertaking to amplify our voices and support each other’s aims for the benefit and health of patients throughout the EU.

Spominčica – Alzheimer Slovenia holds first focus group meeting

TeNDER partner, Spominčica – Alzheimer Slovenia (SPO), held their first focus group meeting with health and social care professionals, and caregivers.

SPO introduced the project, its goals, and details about the services that TeNDER’s integrated care model will provide. Following the initial presentation, participants discussed the upcoming TeNDER pilots in Slovenia, which will be tailored to people with mild cognitive impairments, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of dementia.

Participants noted our emphasis on co-creation to be amongst the project’s strong points.  Indeed, TeNDER’s clinical partners frequently underscore the importance of including users in the development and design of solutions to help ensure usability and a person-centred approach.

During the discussions, however, participants expressed concerns regarding the risk of intelligent support systems replacing the services provided by formal caregivers. They stressed the importance of personal contact and face-to-face interactions, and that these should always remain central to care provision. Partners are mindful of this and emphasise that TeNDER’s integrated care approach does not seek to replace personal connections or formal care, but to support patients and those who surround them. 

The feedback TeNDER partners receive from users is essential in the preparation, implementation, and the concluding phases of large-scale pilot projects. Focus group meetings are but one way in which TeNDER will reach out to and work with users during the life of the project.

TeNDER partners to participate in 30th Alzheimer’s conference

TeNDER is pleased to announce that its partners will participate in the 30th Alzheimer Europe Conference (20 to 22 October 2020), which is set to go virtual due to the continuing pandemic.

David Krivec from Spominčica – Alzheimer Slovenija will present partners’ joint paper titled “Co-creation of the intelligent support system with patients.” In this paper, the authors underscore the importance of establishing ways for patients, carers, and professionals to co-design care approaches and services. Such opportunities for collaboration also strengthen communication between health and social care professionals, as well as help extend the independence of patients.

Under the motto: “Dementia in a changing world,” this year’s conference aims to provide a meeting point for people with dementia, those who care for them, Alzheimer’s associations, policymakers, health and social professionals, researchers, and industry representatives from across Europe and beyond.

Restrictions gradually lifting

Image created by Ruth Burrows. Submitted for United Nations Global Call Out To Creatives - help stop the spread of COVID-19.

As restrictions lift across Europe and other parts of the world, it is vital to continue observing certain safety measures and avoiding misinformation.

The World Health Organization, the European Centre for Disease Control, and European national ministries are all good sources; they are up-to-date and provide evidence-based information.

In addition, keep the following tips in mind and apply them to your national, regional, local contexts – reliance on algorithms should never be the only line of defense against misinformation.

Several TeNDER partners have dedicated sections to COVID-19, which are informed by internationally set guidelines like the ones listed above. Several of the links shared below provide material tailored to specific vulnerable groups, such as elderly patients with co-occurring chronic illnesses.

SPOMINČICA – ALZHEIMER SLOVENIJASlovenian and English

SALUD MADRIDSpanish

ASOCIACIÓN PARKINSON MADRIDSpanish

SCHÖN KLINIK – BAD AIBLINGGerman

UNIVERSITÀ DEGLI STUDI DI ROMA – TOR VERGATAItalian

HOPE – EUROPEAN HOSPITAL AND HEALTHCARE FEDERATION – English

TeNDER joins COVID-19 security research initiative

TeNDER has joined the Security Research Rapid Response to COVID19 (Sec3R) initiative. Sec3R gathers the expertise of various organisations, institutions, and projects to provide a knowledge platform for public authorities, emergency services, and researchers, among others.

The platform assembles trustworthy and free-to-use resources from within the security research community. These include tools that help secure communications, as well as others that combat growing misinformation surrounding the current pandemic.

In addition, Sec3R will bring together research, datasets, and information on COVID-19, cybersecurity, and other related subjects. Consult the website regularly to access continuously updated resources.

World Parkinson’s Day during COVID-19 outbreak

In 2016, The Lancet’s “Global Burden of Disease” report estimated that 6.1 million people were affected by Parkinson’s disease worldwide, with the number set to double by 2050.

Parkinson’s symptoms gradually develop as cells in a specific part of the brain are affected in ways that impact movement. Researchers across the world work on different dimensions of the disease: from seeking to understand the course of the disease and its possible triggers and predisposing factors, to developing treatments. In the realm of care, projects like TeNDER are working to extend the autonomy of patients with Parkinson’s disease, among others.

Every 11 April – on the anniversary of James Parkinson’s birthday, the physician who first identified the disease in 1817 – people worldwide coordinate to raise awareness of the condition and the social, economic and psychological impact it has on individuals and communities. However, efforts to rally support for patients, as well as for research and access to care, happen year-round. There are local, regional, national and global organisations anyone can reach out to for support.

This year, in the context of COVID-19, many awareness-raising campaigns will take place only online. And in addition to these, groups and organisations have mobilised to provide valuable information for patients with Parkinson’s disease and those who surround them. TeNDER consortium partner Asociación Parkinson Madrid (Madrid Parkinson Association), has adapted guidelines in Spanish for those affected; and the European Parkinson’s Disease Association has also gathered important resources in English.

 

 

Research contributes to the fight against COVID-19

In the context of COVID-19, TeNDER partners – particularly those who work directly with patients – are taking precautions to ensure the safety of patients, carers, health professionals, and the general population.

Spominčica – Alzheimer Slovenia, Servicio Madrileño de Salud, Asociación Parkinson Madrid, Schön Klinik and the University of Rome – Tor Vergata are currently implementing national and international COVID-19 health protocols (follow the links above to learn more).

While doctors, nurses, and other health professionals and staff are working tirelessly in the frontlines, researchers are working on developing curative and preventive care. Many are also studying behaviour, to help improve socio-economic policies and responses.

Advances in the fight against COVID-19 are aided by international research collaboration: research building on research – its successes and its failures. The European Commission has launched special actions to facilitate such efforts. Meanwhile, The Lancet has reported that research organisations across the world have formed a coalition to support resource-limited settings. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

To learn more about ongoing research worldwide, consult research university websites, the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 research database, etc. In addition several news sites and scholarly journals have opened access to COVID-19-related information.

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For practical information on the impact of COVID-19 measures and on international guidelines, here are some additional external resources for specific groups; e.g., elderly people, patients with chronic diseases, etc.:

https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/news-events/information-covid-19-specific-groups-elderly-patients-chronic-diseases-people

http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-emergencies/coronavirus-covid-19/news/news/2020/3/mental-health-and-psychological-resilience-during-the-covid-19-pandemic

https://www.alzheimer-europe.org/Living-with-dementia/COVID-19

 

Disclaimer: the information provided in external links does not represent the views of TeNDER.

What is integrated care?

Integrated care is a broad term that describes how health and social care delivery can be linked and/or coordinated to address issues such as fragmentation and miscommunication, among others.

Though there are different approaches to integrated care, they all part from common concerns: from preserving the quality of life of patients to securing access to quality care in the face of rising healthcare costs.

These challenges are happening side-by-side positive developments, including technological advancements and a growing array of medical and nursing specialties.

In this landscape, an integrated care approach helps ease communication between different care providers (physicians, specialists, carers, etc.) and with patients, and it helps align policies and initiatives with day-to-day health and social care delivery. All this is especially important considering that an increasing life expectancy corresponds with a rise in chronic – and often co-occurring (multi-morbidity) – illnesses.

Applying integrated care models

The World Health Organization (2016), has identified different settings where such models are often applied:

  • across health interventions (preventive and curative);
  • between the health and social sectors;
  • in different clinical settings (hospitals, residential treatment centres, day care, urgent care, etc.), as well as non-clinical settings (administrative, etc.); and
  • at policy and management levels.

The TeNDER integrated care ecosystem will operate across a number of these areas, tailoring its approach to manage issues related to multi-morbidity in patients with neurodegenerative diseases, mainly Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Additional sources on integrated care

If you wish to learn more about the general concept of integrated care and its various applications in Europe, here are some external resources you can explore:

World Health Organization (2016). “Integrated Care Models: An overview,” Health Services Delivery Programme – Division of Health Systems and Public Health.

Mariana Dates, et al (2018), “Health system performance assessment – Integrated Care Assessment (2157303 HSPA),” European Commission.

Expert Group on Health Systems Performance Assessment (2017). “Tools and methodologies to assess integrated care in Europe,” European Commission.

Ellen Nolte and Martin McKee, et al (2008). Caring for people with chronic conditions: A health system perspective. New York, Berkshire: Open University Press/McGraw-Hill.

TeNDER project kicks off in Madrid


On 3-4 December 2019, the Polytechnic University of Madrid – TeNDER’s coordinating partner – hosted the project’s first meeting. Partners discussed Work Packages, task allocations, timelines, and key deliverables.

TeNDER is a multi-sectoral project funded by Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. For the next three years, it will develop an integrated care model to manage multi-morbidity in patients with neurodegenerative diseases.

The consortium partners are: Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Spain), Servicio Madrileño de Salud (Spain), Asociación Parkinson Madrid (Spain), Università degli Studi di Roma – ‘Tor Vergata’ Hospital (Italy), Schön Klinic Bad Aibling (Germany), Spominčica – Alzheimer Slovenia (Slovenia), Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (Greece), Ubiwhere (Portugal), DataWizard (Italy), Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium), Maggioli Group (Italy), Elgoline Doo (Slovenia), and the European Hospital and Healthcare Federation (Belgium).

TeNDER’s user partners will conduct 5 large-scale pilots that will target patients who suffer Alzheimer’s and/or Parkinson’s along with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and/or other chronic illnesses.

In each pilot setting (i.e., in-hospital acute care, at home, and in day- and full-time nursing homes), patients will be monitored using sensors, cameras that capture movement, affective recognition technology, and wristbands that record basic vitals, etc.

Meanwhile, TeNDER’s technical, legal and ethical experts will ensure that all personal data is protected according the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and that rigorous ethical standards are met in order to minimize the risk of unwanted impact on the patient or their family and friends.

The project aims to improve the quality of life of patients and those that surround them. First, by facilitating communication between social and health care professionals, and extending the autonomy of patients that can live independently. Second, by making TeNDER’s model for integrated care fit for widespread implementation, to benefit patients beyond project years.