The UOC is developing an app to improve care for individuals with autism

Rubn Permuy
The goal of the research is to help therapists and family members of people affected by this disorder

A UOC research project is planning to develop an app that will improve healthcare for patients with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The app designed by the AUTAPP project will help therapists and family members of patients to make personalized selections of the most appropriate form of psychosocial treatment. This study is funded by a grant from the Spanish National R&I Plan for 2013-2016, as part of its health strategy action.

The team of researchers plan to develop a decision-making algorithm that will be based on a combination of patients' clinical and psychosocial characteristics and the results of past interventions. The app will then be built around this algorithm, after which the last step will be a pilot test to check its effectiveness.

"The constant development of information and communication technologies (ICT) means that healthcare professionals are getting much better access to information they can use to help patients. A range of studies show that computer-based systemsused to support clinical decisions have managed to improve the degree to which professionals adhere to clinical practice guides and have also improved patients' courses of recovery", said the project's principal investigator, Marta Aymerich.

Aymerich – who is also the UOC's Vice President for Strategic Planning and Research – is working as part of a team including Jordi Conesa and Antoni Prez-Navarro, professors from the UOC's Faculty of Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunications; Montserrat Pmies, head of child psychiatry at Corporaci Sanitria Parc Taul; Isabel Parra, a specialist in psychiatry; and Noem Robles, PhD in psychology and coordinator for the Universitat Autnoma de Barcelona's Strategic Research Community in Mental Health.

The project also involves another app that helps choose the best psychotherapy for people with dementia. Development of this app has been coordinated by Aymerich and it also received funding from the Spanish National R&I Plan. The app was selected to be presented at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health Alumni Weekend held in Boston on 14 October.