Treating depression by laptop
According to the WHO, 350 million people are affected by depression worldwide. So it is estimated that by 2020, depression will become the second most frequent reason for disability and work absences after heart disease. So Arvato Spain, in cooperation with Badalona city hospital, has successfully set up the “Caring me” online platform pilot project specifically for patients suffering from depression.
Digital transformation does not stop – even in healthcare. Medical support of patients by means of online or telephone communication promises more convenience and efficiency for treating certain symptoms such as depression. So Arvato Spain has independently developed the “Caring me” online platform for precisely this disorder. Patients can use their computer, tablet, or smartphone to access exercises, documents, tips, and further information provided by Arvato while still being in close cooperation with doctors. The basis for this is a questionnaire on the patient’s health situation, through which deficits such as sleep problems or physical limitations are identified. A doctor then outlines specific recommendations which could perhaps help the patient. These can also be automatically recommended to the patient later. There are also a series of calendars where the patient can document the progress that they make with their diet, sleeping habits or physical activities.
As well as the platform, the Arvato service centre forms the interface between doctor and patient, mainly by telephone and email. If a medical emergency arises with the patient, or an appointment has to be made, Arvato gets in touch with the relevant doctor. “There are very few offers in the field of telemedicine in Spain right now,” says Jan Schwietzke, project manager at Arvato Spain. “Depression-related conditions are ideal for a test run as their treatment requires hardly any medical devices and the doctor can monitor the patient‘s emotional state at all times.” As Arvato Spain has developed the platform themselves, they want to extend this technology to include telemedical treatment of other conditions in future.
The benefits for patients and medical personnel
The treatment of depression is complex. For 38 per cent of the patients suffering from depression, medicinal treatment with antidepressants does not work; 54 per cent do not achieve a full recovery and only a small proportion of them receive treatment from a psychologist. The objective of this project is to support the patients better through personalised recommendations and advice, to provide the best clarification of their own symptoms and, in the end, to help them towards a better quality of life. Currently around 164 patients are taking part in the Caring me project, 79 per cent of which are female. Their average age is 44.
The two values used to measure the severity of the depression have sunk significantly.
Facts and figures
The PHQ value: PHQ-9 shows the depression module of the patient’s health sheet. This questionnaire consists of nine questions and is used for the routine diagnosis of depression. A PHQ value of 5–9 points suggests “mild depressive symptoms”, and with 10–14 points we are talking about “moderate depressive symptoms”.
In Arvato’s Caring me project the PHQ value sank from 14.1 at the beginning of the study to 10.9.
The BDI value (Beck depression inventory): the BDI is a psychological test process that records severe depressive symptoms in the clinical field. The questionnaire includes 21 questions about how the patient has felt in the last few weeks. According to the BDI, values of between 11 and 17 show a “mild to medium degree of depressive symptoms”. From 18 points onwards we are talking about a “clinically relevant” result.
Even the BDI values could be reduced from 20.8 to 18.1.
Published in Arvato healthcare news 02-2015