Zwei Mannen im CSS Health Lap

CSS Health Lab – pro­moting digital therapy

Together with ETH Zurich and the University of St. Gallen, at the CSS Health Lab we’re conducting re­search into new digital health tech­nologies. We’re developing inno­vative solutions that enable people to cope better with chronic illnesses.

Collaboration with ETH Zurich and University of St. Gallen

The CSS Health Lab is a research laboratory at the Centre for Digital Health Interventions, a joint initiative of ETH Zurich and the University of St. Gallen dedicated to various aspects of digital health. Ph.D. candidates from fields including psychology and computer science conduct research into digital health interventions, together with patients, service providers and patient organisations.

From digital biomarkers to chatbots

Digital health interventions such as smartphone apps aim to change people's health behaviours. They help patients to manage their condition better on a day-to-day basis and to recognise dangers to their health at an earlier stage.

The Centre for Digital Health Interventions is currently researching the following digital therapies:

COPD

The lung disease COPD is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. The CSS Health Lab is developing digital biomarkers that can predict a sudden deterioration in a person’s health. Biomarkers are measurable indicators of a given disease state.

In a pilot study, the condition, coughing and voice quality of COPD sufferers are being recorded via smartphone. The aim of this study is to evaluate the technical feasibility of this process along with the suitability of coughing and the voice as potential biomarkers for COPD. The project builds upon existing research findings in the field of asthma.

Breeze

The Breeze app enables smartphone-based breathing training with a playful approach. The application automatically detects various breathing phases and whether they are being done properly.

A first version is in development and an app prototype has already been put into practice. Several studies are currently being planned to gather data and improve the detection of breathing. At the same time, a gamification concept is being developed. The use of gamified elements is intended to boost motivation and increase the therapeutic outcome.

As well as in the treatment of chronic diseases, the app could potentially be used as a form of prevention, e.g. as a means of stress reduction.

Mental health

The CSS Health Lab is engaged in developing digital biomarkers for people with depression. Biomarkers are measurable indicators of a given disease state. Research is being conducted into whether the voice and breathing can be used to indicate the degree of depression. A corresponding digital marker should help adapt treatment and prevention dynamically to the person’s needs over time.

The next planned step is to evaluate the potential of a voice- and breathing-based digital biomarker by conducting a joint study with the Breeze app.

Adherence to digital health interventions

Adherence is the term used to describe commitment to pursuing the therapeutic goals that have been jointly set as part of the treatment process. A lack of adherence is a major problem in digital health interventions as many are only used for a few days on average.

The aim is to understand this non-adherence and develop solutions to improve the situation. At present, the scientific literature is being analysed as part of a systematic review. Simultaneously, real data collected by several project partners is being examined to better understand the progression of non-adherence.

Mobile Coach

The Centre for Digital Health Interventions is developing an open-source platform for the design and implementation of chat-based, digital health interventions. The platform offers several modules intended to facilitate the speedy implementation of web apps, smartphone apps and SMS-based interventions that aim to change health behaviours.

DyMand – Dyadic Management of Type II Diabetes

Managing complex chronic diseases such as diabetes is frequently not only a matter for the sufferers, but usually also affects close family and friends.

DyMand is a project run together with the University of Zurich. It examines how couples in which one of the partners has type II diabetes share the management of the disease.

Headwind

Low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) is one of the most relevant acute complications of diabetes and can impair the cognitive and motor functions.

Headwind is a project conducted jointly with Inselspital Bern and the Bosch IoT Lab. It investigates whether imminent hypoglycaemia can be detected at an early stage when driving by measuring motor data from the vehicle and physiological parameters.

Elena+

The Elena+ app helps users correctly process information on COVID-19 and make health-promoting routines a part of their everyday life despite restrictions.

The Elena+ project involves a number of international research groups under the leadership and coordination of the Centre for Digital Health Interventions.

Successful transfer to market

Once the research projects at the CSS Health Lab have been concluded, we endeavour to transfer the results to the market. We aim to offer our clients added value through new interventions. We have succeeded in doing just that with the following projects:

Resmonics

Peter Tinschert and Iris Shih founded the start-up Resmonics on the basis of their research at the CSS Health Lab. Resmonics technology turns common smartphones into a medical sensor that allows patients with respiratory diseases to monitor their symptoms in an easy, straightforward way and to recognise early warning signs. CSS is supporting Resmonics as it continues to develop its technology.

Digital physio coach

CSS is developing a digital offering that aids physiotherapy patients in getting back to health quicker. An initial prototype of the digital physio coach was created together with the CSS Health Lab and tested successfully in several studies.