Actissist: a smartphone app to remotely provide therapy and support to schizophrenia patients

Background

Worldwide, severe mental illness (SMI) such as schizophrenia affects about 1 in 100 of people during their lifetime. It is an illness that can be very restrictive on an individual’s life; outcome between individuals varies considerably and it is associated with premature mortality. The onset of schizophrenia typically occurs in early adulthood; 80% of people relapse within 5-years of onset, resulting in unscheduled acute care and adverse effects on psychosocial development.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines for the treatment and management of people suffering from schizophrenia recommends cognitive behavior therapy (CBT; talking therapy) as a first-line treatment for psychosis. The quality and accessibility to CBT for psychosis is highly variable and poor in many service settings, resulting in psychosis relapse indicators that are either missed or treated too late.

There is an urgent need to harness improved self-management and the delivery of appropriate treatment to prevent a further deterioration of an individual’s illness. Smartphone technology provides an opportunity to revolutionise healthcare by driving improvements in quality, efficiency and access.

Actissist is a software package developed at The University of Manchester that promotes self-management, and delivers a timely, efficient and personalized treatment for SMI. Using experience-based design with end-users the team based at the University has developed Actissist to deliver a CBT-based intervention at the point-of-need and in the context of a person’s own environment.

The team’s research has shown that patients can complete the intervention quickly in the course of daily life over a 12-week period and that this technology is feasible, safe and acceptable to patients. The team is currently working towards refining and improving Actissist and conducting an efficacy study in people with psychosis.

The technology

  • A psychological treatment that is personalized, responsive, accessible and efficient at the point-of-need
  • A smartphone-based software package
  • Remotely delivers CBT (talking therapy) to the patient
  • Bridges the current gap between diagnosis and provision of face-to-face talking therapy treatment for people with schizophrenia

Applications

A treatment therapy to support schizophrenia patients in a person’s own environment outside the healthcare setting.

Key benefits

  • There are various CBT-type apps currently on the market that are either not focused on SMI or are not backed by clinical trial evidence. Many health monitoring apps monitor symptoms, deliver reminders and provide an alert to healthcare providers but do not address the need for personalised and accessible CBT. Other competing apps either have different aims, target different psychiatric problems/dimensions or are have not supported by trial data.
  • ACTISSIST has been developed at The University of Manchester by world-leading CBT academics and software/technology experts and has been co-produced from the outset with end-users in mind.
  • ACTISSIST specifically targets psychosis relapse indicators and has demonstrated feasibility within the NHS context unlike competing apps.

Intellectual property

The software package and associated materials are protected by copyright.

Opportunity

We are seeking partnership and collaboration opportunities to further develop and commercialise this technology.

Contact

Dr Sonia Nikolovski, IP Development and Partnering Manager, UMIP. mailto:sonia.nikolovski@umip.com: +44 (0)161 606 7297

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