Caring me, virtual help against depression

The healthcare municipal Organization Badalona Serveis and the multinational company ARVATO Bertelsmann joined efforts to develop “Caring me”

Caring me, virtual help against depression

Caring me

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The healthcare municipal Organization Badalona Serveis and the multinational company ARVATO Bertelsmann joined efforts to develop and launch an efficient therapeutic tool that provides patients with new and stable treatment methods. Treatments were to be based in therapy self-guidance, always under supervision by medical specialists in the field.

The project is already in its pilot phase and is currently helping two hundred people who suffer from emotional disorders, mostly mild and moderate depression. The system is expected to be more efficient than previous international experiences in the area (which were carried out in northern Europe and in Australia). 

Caring Me is the result achieved in Spain when efforts were joined by the medical area and one of the global companies with a higher ability to create digitalized smart systems for information and analysis. In a nutshell, a combination of private and public initiative which has now become a virtual platform that provides patients with a tool for day-to-day assistance, previously committed to knowledge and experience. This is the substantial value of the platform in the current healthcare system, a system that is now facing severe cutbacks and in which healthcare provision services for these disorders need 50% of the available resources to care for 20% of the patients. Its intrinsic value lies in the two-fold goal of providing a simultaneous solution for patient improvement while also taking the shortcomings of the public healthcare system into consideration. 

The pilot programme was launched in October 2014 and it is currently in the therapeutic validation stage. It is aimed at promoting sustainability in the healthcare system while providing patients with more intense, permanent tools. This is a pioneering combination in which BSA contributes patient knowledge and therapy, while arvato brings forward its know-how in the relationship between big companies and their clients. A unique combination perhaps, where both actors devote their enthusiasm and commitment to a greater end. 

The programme fosters healthy lifestyle habits in an interactive manner, and it offers self-directed cognitive-behavioural therapy with the aim to provide users with the required tools for emotion management, as well as stress and distorted or harmful thoughts management. 

In conclusion, this is a comfortable treatment the patient may use in his/her own environment. This is also a tailor-made therapy that brings medical treatment together with technology in order to create an on-line interactive assistance programme that focuses on the improvement of patient care and health. 

The programme includes a list of training and motivational actions to include healthy habits in the patient’s lifestyle, such as physical activity, sleep hygiene or a balanced diet, among others. This is a customizable programme in which users may interact and adapt activities according to his/her own indications on their health status.  

Caring me also includes cognitive-behavioural sessions that target emotion and stress management, as well the activation, detection and control of distorted thoughts. The final goal is to provide users with useful techniques to improve their emotional states by handling behaviour, thoughts and interactions with other people in order to learn how to overcome depression and lead a fuller life.

Several tools -including SMS reminders, informative e-mails or follow-up phone calls- are also made available by Caring me, which increase regular monitoring by healthcare professionals who follow up the patient’s evolution. This makes the service more comfortable and customized to individual needs, while control over the disease and patients’ quality of life are improved. Besides, therapeutic efficacy is an additional goal to be achieved, which in turn contributes to sustainability in the healthcare system. 

We know that depression has no single cause; on the contrary, it is due to an interaction between biological, psychological and social factors; this is why the better way to fight against it involves using a combination of several treatments. From a therapeutic point of view, the platform is a complement for the efficient, customized treatment that takes every factor into account while empowering users and increasing their satisfaction along with that of their families and healthcare professionals. 

In this sense, Caring me also includes a website for those close to people affected by these emotional disorders, such as family and friends. This is intended to reduce the the stigma that still goes hand in hand with these disorders, and to put the debate on the importance and strategies for mental healthcare on the public agenda. 

Once the preliminary study phase of the programme (the current phase) is over, the platform will be able to systematically work as a therapeutic health line in healthcare atention for emotional disorders, mainly mild and moderate depression. This is not only the major health disorder in the world, but also the major global cause of disability; according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 350 million people suffer from depression.

We believe that the healthcare system should take advantage of new technologies (as other sectors are doing) in order to foster efficiency in patient control, offer more information to users and people close to them in order to improve their knowledge and eventually increase the assistential quality perceived and quality of life as a whole. 

Remarkably enough, arvato’s presence in the healthcare area is not a coincidence. Apart from our wealth of experience in setting out (along with autonomic public administrations) pioneering systems in emergency medical care, as we did in Andalucía and Catalunya, we are involved in a strategy for the provision of comprehensive solutions for the healthcare sector, both from the public and private points of view. We are also involved in service improvement and patient communication all along the “patient jorney”, which includes the promotion of healthy lifestyles, prevention, monitoring and management of chronic patients. 

Applications for the “patient journey”are plentiful, and “Caring Me” is drawn to leading part of the way in the chronic disease therapy area. This is a new way to tackle and manage diseases, and we are certain that, being in the digital age, there is no way back.   

By Pere San Martin

General Director arvato Digital Marketing