The prevalence of mental afflictions continues to grow: depression affects more than 300 million people worldwide, bipolar disease affects nearly 60 million, and schizophrenia around 21 million, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO). Growing numbers have come to show that mental illness has become a serious public health problem, but sadly and often, they don't receive the necessary attention.
Knowing the lack of economic recourses needed to tackle the situation, a PhD in computer sciences, Facundo Carrillo decided to use his knowledge to service clinical psychiatry through Sigmind. The invention is a whole set of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools that aid mental health professionals with the proper diagnostics of mental illness. Thanks to Sigmind, Carrillo has been awarded as a winner by Latin American Innovators Under 35 from the MIT Technology Review LATAM edition.
To explain how Sigmind works, Carrillo uses the analogy of a medical appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. The specialist listens to all of the patient's symptoms, afterwards an x-ray is ordered, and then having both as a reference, the doctor is ready to discuss a diagnosis. Unlike orthopedic surgeons, psychiatrists do not have an objective diagnostic tool and can only count on “the subjectivity between doctor and patient." To alleviate these short comings, Carrillo has developed an app that records audio of patients on a daily basis ,regarding their day to day routines and dynamics. Afterwards the algorithm within Sigmind is able to analyze the recordings and turns them to “objective information” for the doctors to examine. The system is able to quantify the level of cohesiveness and the emotional discourse of the patient.
Carrillo recalls: “It struck me that psychiatry had a big problem: a lack of diagnostic tools. Sigmind seemed to me like a good way to keep working with cognitive neuroscience through an application that has huge impact potential.” The data generated by this app allows doctors to better adjust medication dosages and diagnostics, change assigned medications, and have a better follow up with patients. Sigmind is available in health centers in Buenos Aires, Argentina and is already approved by ethic committees from health centers in Madrid, Spain and Santiago de Chile, Chile. The app has been used by my more than 500 patients and has recorded more than 6,000 pieces of audio.
For the directing manager of General Catalys Partners, Niko Bonatsos, who is also a member of the jury for the 2019 Latin American Innovators Under 35, Carrillo is a “phenomenal candidate for this award."