A novel new app can help healthcare providers keep tabs on patients suffering from mental illness or diabetes, to see if their behavior is straying from the norm and heading in an unhealthy direction.
Currently being researched at several hospitals in the US, the app Ginger.io silently logs data about what patients do and where they go, how often they text and call, and when, MIT Technology Review recently reported.
The approach relies on technology that is increasingly standard on smartphones -- global positioning systems and accelerometers that track location and movement. Through this, the app can look for signs that something in their life has changed. For a depressive, the app can track inward behavior, such as not taking phone calls or staying at home. A diabetic can be monitored for signs of lethargy, so a nurse can ring to remind them to take their medications. The idea is meant to serve as an early warning system, not a diagnosis, the report said. Available in both the Android and iOS versions, Ginger.io can be activated only by a healthcare professional.
The app's developers are part of MIT's Media Lab that applied computer algorithms to mobile phone data, in order to provide insights into how people move around and behave, and even into the spread of disease.
Cogito, another company with ties to MIT's Media lab, is undergoing a large-scale trial of the technology to measure whether a US soldier is at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder by spotting periods of withdrawal or mania, the New York Times reported.