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Computer & electronics hardware

Jordina Arcal

Eating disorders, obesity and childhood psychosis can be controlled with her health apps

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"In Spain, only half of the patients with a chronic disease correctly follow the prescribed treatment. Experiencing a notable improvement or negative side effects at the onset of the treatment and forgetting are the main reasons for this, according to data from Farmaindustria. Jordina Arcal was conscious of this issue, as her family has close ties to the healthcare sector, and this led her to develop a technological solution to help patients and doctors.

""When the idea evolved to do something that would really help people and unite technology and healthcare, I didn't think twice"", she recalls. Her first idea was to create a game directed at patients with eating disorders. She presented the project to the CTM Centro Tecnológico of Barcelona (Spain) at the end of 2013, but it was rejected. So instead of giving up, Arcal decided to start her own company alongside her business partner Jordi Cusidó. Thus HealthApp was born, a start-up that develops applications that allow doctors and patients to manage treatments via a mobile phone. This initiative has led to Arcal´s recognition as one of MIT Technology Review, Spanish Edition's Innovators Under 35 Spain 2016.

Through HealthApp, Arcal developed her first project, named TCApp, a game in which patients with eating disorders register different parameters in exchange for rewards. Doctors can view the data introduced in real time through a website. ""These games can be adapted to any type of patient. Gamification entails introducing gaming dynamics which, in this case, help patients to execute their therapy"", Arcal explains.

Her next projects target patients with obesity and children suffering from psychosis and Down syndrome. They will include facial recognition and voice analysis technologies developed in collaboration with the Center for Machine Vision of the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Arcal points out that ""these technologies are very useful for identifying emotions"". The young chemical engineer explains that ""these illnesses cause patients to suffer negative emotions that they are not able to describe."" To address this, the algorithms will indicate ""the percentage of each emotion the patient is experiencing"".

According to the general director of development and founding partner of Sourtech and jury member for the Innovators Under 25 Spain 2016 awards, Hernán Roig, this type of applications ""allow healthcare professionals to efficiently and effectively obtain much more information about patients."" In his expert opinion, ""the project has a truly innovative nature with an elevated potential impact on today´s society."""