18th February 2018 saw the presentation in Barcelona of a pioneering health app, CUIDA-M. An innovative cognitive assistant for caregivers of those with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder who suffer agitation crises, it was designed by the caregivers themselves, with the support of Ferrer and IBM.
A mobile app capable of holding conversations in real time, it also works as a resource center, offering accompaniment and support to caregivers during these agitation crises.
Agitation is a multifactorial syndrome that, according to various studies, accounts for up to 10% of psychiatric interventions in the ER. Without timely intervention, it can, in some cases, lead to aggression or violence from the patients themselves or in their surroundings. Alleviating the suffering of patients and helping their caregivers in the management of these situations is a significant health challenge; the support and empowerment of both parties is key to a more human, yet efficient, approach.
In the development of CUIDA-M, a multidisciplinary group of Ferrer scientists and physicians worked with IBM specialists, in line with the guidelines of the American Association for Emergency Psychiatry and the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006). The contribution of patients, caregivers and psychologists from patient associations was fundamental in ensuring that the app would be as useful as possible.
Thanks to the functionalities of IBM’s Watson supercomputer, the app has the ability to talk with caregivers, understand the aim and context of the interactions, as well as the emotions or the tone of the conversations in which it participates. CUIDA-M provides caregivers with precise answers and easily understandable recommendations on how to deal with the situations in which they find themselves, both during agitation crises and in between. Caregivers can also request personalized content and information through text or voice messages; locate the nearest pharmacies, hospitals, mental health and primary healthcare centres; keep a scheduled record of events such as hospital admissions, medication changes and visits to the doctor; and also periodically self-administer the Caregiver Strain Test, a standardized test to measure the stress placed on the caregivers of patients with chronic diseases.
Ferrer aims to give maximum value to its therapeutic approaches by helping to empower patients and caregivers. Mental health is surely one of the greatest challenges of our century. CUIDA-M gives caregivers of those with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder additional tools to ensure a more comprehensive approach to agitation crises and, in turn, better management of the illness and a better quality of life for patients and those close to them.
Ferrer hopes to offer the app to psychiatric medical societies and health professionals, in order to receive their opinions and suggestions, as well as patient and family associations who wish to contribute. Working collaboratively, we can make CUIDA-M an essential tool in the treatment of agitation.