Psychological sensors to be incorporated in telehealth for service members

By Mike Miliard
10:05 AM

A new telehealth sensing technology will enable providers to remotely monitor the psychological and behavioral health status of U.S. service members and veterans.

Charlestown, Mass.-based Cogito, which traces its roots to MIT's Human Dynamics Lab, develops psychological sensing systems that can detect individual risk of behavioral health problems. The firm has been awarded a contract from the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) and will serve as a contributor to the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Detection and Computational Analysis of Psychological Signals (DCAPS) Program.

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In partnership with ICT, Cogito’s Social Signal Processing (SSP) Platform technology will be incorporated into telehealth interactions to provide clinicians with a real-time assessment of psychological stress, depression and engagement among U.S. service members, veterans and their families. The program will allow clinicians to identify when individuals may be signaling psychological distress by viewing the SSP data on a computer dashboard displayed during telehealth interactions.
“Incorporating Cogito’s technology into the telehealth dashboard will give remote care providers an objective, secure tool to supplement their skills and intuition in assessing patients’ behavioral health status, engagement and rapport during each interaction,” said Joshua Feast, founder and CEO of Cogito. “We are honored to be working with ICT to support our U.S. service members experiencing depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or other psychological health concerns.”
Cogito's Honest Signals technology assesses cues in an individual’s natural speech and social behavior to provide accurate, non-invasive monitoring to support more timely intervention for psychological issues, say company officials.

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In keeping with strict privacy and security protocols for the DCAPS program, data will be collected with the informed consent of individuals involved and stored in a secure, private data-sharing framework. DCAPS will develop, in conjunction with leading privacy experts, a novel trust framework such as envisioned in the National Strategy for Secure Identity in Cyberspace. This trust framework will allow war fighters to control and safely share their “honest signals” data.
Mental health disorders continue to rank among the top health problems worldwide in terms of cost to society. In the US, depression affects 16 percent of adults, or 32 million people, in their lifetime. Depression is also significantly higher in people diagnosed with a chronic condition, such as diabetes, heart disease or obesity. Recent studies estimate that between 40 percent to 60 percent of individuals diagnosed with a chronic condition also suffer from depression.

Yet, for chronic populations, it is estimated that a diagnosis of depression is missed in approximately 85 percent of patients. Additional studies estimate that less than one-fourth of individuals experiencing depression received appropriate treatment, during a 12-month period. Due to historically high levels of combat exposure and the effects of multiple deployments, there has been a high percentage of military personnel affected by psychological health disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.