In the future, digital technologies and smart devices could also be an option to help patients with schizophrenia manage their disease. Dr. Bernd Sommer, Head of Department CNS Diseases Research, sees a great opportunity through the advancing of big data. Research teams now have access to complex patient data sets collected under real world conditions – possible through the smartphone. “We are able to analyze the daily problems of patients with schizophrenia electronically. That means the psychiatric lab is becoming less and less an actual physical lab and space,” explains Sommer.
“Knowing that we operate in a field that requires utmost diligence when assessing the potential effect of our new medications, we see two key elements to drive our clinical study design: we achieve precise measurement and accuracy through technology, but also include input from people personally involved in mental health situations and their insights,” says Dr. Stephane Pollentier, Head of Medicine CNS, “With that, we try to capture what really matters to patients.”
In concrete terms, the new possibilities could have an impact on how patients can tackle the symptoms of the disease. Because the symptoms of schizophrenia occur in recurrent attacks, the disease pattern is an interplay of ups and downs. By analyzing the mobility patterns and social behavior of patients via the smartphone, an algorithm could help to identify early signs of an upcoming relapse. Randye Kaye has been through these challenges herself. Managing the right timing can be difficult even for close family members. “These technologies could offer huge relief for the everyday life of people living with schizophrenia and the whole family. To know the course of the disease more precisely could help to intervene earlier. This gives people like my son the possibility to regain their independence,” notes Kaye on the potential impact.