The University of the Highlands and Islands
University of Edinburgh
Life and Chemical Sciences
Edinburgh & Lothians
CogniHealth is an Edinburgh-based health-tech company that creates digital solutions for long-term conditions. With a current focus on dementia, their aim is to improve the quality of lives of families affected by dementia.
Their flagship solution, CogniCare, is a digital companion for dementia carers. The CogniCare app empowers carers with an array of resources and activities that cover all aspects of dementia care in one place. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) to drive personalised dementia care support with the aim to reduce the affected family’s financial, physical and psychological burden.
This healthcare app also allows carers to monitor and track disease progression and gain comprehensive insights through the reports generated; enabling them to communicate better and more accurately with healthcare professionals.
Pooja Jain, a neuroscientist and co-founder of CogniHealth, was referred by Business Gateway to Louise Arnold at Interface. CogniHealth was seeking to strengthen the monitor-and-track functionality and add interactive features to the CogniCare app.
While the resources available through CogniCare were successful in informing carers about dementia, delivering care and self-care, the way in which carers could document dementia symptoms through the app was tedious at times and not aligned to medical standards. This made it difficult to provide personalised care.
Louise and CogniHealth agreed that working with academic experts who understand how dementia is detected, and how it is monitored in its progression, would help CogniHealth develop a better understanding of the parameters healthcare professionals would find informative. This would ensure they capture the right type of information, confirm its accuracy, and help deliver an effective personalised care treatment plan. After a project outline was scoped up and issued to various universities in Scotland, Louise was able to identify relevant expertise at the University of the Highlands & Islands (UHI). UHI have unique expertise in the care of older adults and the dementia care sector with a deep understanding of the various aspects of care provision for people affected by dementia.
CogniHealth and UHI worked together to capture relevant clinical, cognitive, functional and behavioural parameters within CogniCare that could provide key information to both family carers and healthcare professionals. Family carers would be able to track the most relevant symptoms over time in an accurate and interactive manner.
The project was funded by a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher.
Both parties have benefitted from the exchange of knowledge as well as the co-production of an enhanced product that will have a tangible impact on dementia care.
Company – One of the significant outputs from this project was the development of a framework for practical day-to-day assessments and monitoring on symptom escalation by family carers of people living with dementia at home. This feature of the app could enhance carers’ competence and confidence in early identification of relevant symptoms; enabling professionals to provide early intervention to prevent unnecessary hospitalisation. There are currently no tools that enable this kind of interaction with all those involved within the dementia care triad (the PwD, the carer and the professional).
CogniHealth aims to build partnerships with organisations across the UK, and this project provided a unique opportunity to develop such a partnership with the University of Highlands and Islands.
University – The project added value to two Dementia PhD students with learning opportunities around academic – industry partnership working and project management skills. Outputs from this project included a virtual conference presentation at the Alzheimer’s Disease International Conference in December 2020 and the following publication in the Journal of Working with Older people:
Macaden, L., Muirhead, K., Melchiorre, G., Mantle, R., Ditta, G. and Giangreco, A., 2020. Relationship-centred CogniCare: an academic–digital–dementia care experts’ interface. Working with Older People.
Scottish Economy – The societal and economic costs of dementia are detrimental to society. The Scottish economy is not only impacted by the health and social care costs of dementia, but also the loss of a valuable workforce who may become full or part-time carers for a family member with dementia. Enabling the delivery of improved care, prevention and early intervention can reduce costs, while also keeping potential carers in the workforce for longer.
In April 2020, Louise connected CogniHealth to the University of Edinburgh Advanced Care Research Centre. The project was funded via the Data-Driven Innovation Programme* to apply data-driven-innovation ideas in support of communities, services and businesses, in response to the COVID pandemic. An award of £15k was made to the University of Edinburgh Medical School to build a ‘soothing’ feature within the CogniCare app. The new feature enables users to access and view soothing images. These images will be sourced from an existing database of 800 images that have been collected from the public and have previously been shown to help improve people’s mood and help fight mental health issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 lock down. Users will be able to personalise the images based on their preferences (e.g. themes, colours) and tell CogniCare how they feel and the impact the imagery has had to their mental health.
* The Data-Driven Innovation initiative aims to help organisations and all our citizens benefit from the data revolution. Working together to deliver the 15-year programme are the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University, whose researchers will collaborate with industry on data partnerships in the public, private and third sectors. This is part of the Edinburgh & South-East Scotland City Regional Deal.