Why innovation in healthcare will come from the patients
After suffering from anorexia I decided to work on a solution to support other young people who have to deal with the same challenge. I started a non-profit initiative, Jourvie, in Berlin. Our team of four staff are developing a smartphone app for people affected by eating disorders.
The app supports the patients during the recovery process and provides them with a food journal, mood diary, motivation and coping tactics — all of which are essential parts of the treatment.
Eating disorders, including anorexia, bulimia or binge eating affect up to 70 million people worldwide. Estimates suggest that only 50 per cent of those affected succeed with the therapy in the long-term, and there is a strong risk of fatality.
During the process of therapy, patients are often required to fill out paper diaries after every meal. They write down what they ate, where and with whom, but most importantly — how they felt about it and what kind of thoughts came to their minds. This helps to identify behaviour patterns together with the therapist.
The problem with food journals is that they require a lot of paper, they are easily forgotten and embarrassing to complete in public or in front of peers. Patients are often fail to complete their journals, consequently their therapists miss key pieces of information.
Our app makes it faster for the users to log in the necessary data and to communicate with their therapist. My team and I want also to motivate the patients to finish their therapy, to increase the treatment efficiency and decrease the drop-out rates. We furthermore want to break the taboo around eating disorders and support those affected in seeking support.
The progress and the current state of the project proves the importance of the tool: the development of the concept started in 2013 when I received one-year-support from the “Programm Engagement mit Perspektive” from Ashoka Germany. During that time I found a team and managed to collaborate with strong partners, such as the Charité University Hospital or the international law firm White & Case LLP. In addition, we are working on a research study with two clinics to test the impact of the app in a clinical context.
I am convinced that patients can contribute a lot to the further development of treatment programs and therapies. I think that patients are willing to and should become more active agents in managing their own health. I see the future in the healthcare innovation arising from the collaborative improvement efforts of both patients, their relatives, healthcare professionals, providers and experts.
- By Ekaterina Karabasheva
Ekaterina initiated her project Jourvie in 2013. She received one year of support from the “Programm Engagement mit Perspektive” from Ashoka Germany to launch her project. You can download the app here.
This article was first published on Virgin here.