Over the course of two days, more than 100 projects and experiences were presented on the use of new technologies in the fields of health and social welfare.
The use of an app to diagnose and improve dyslexia, nanorobots to treat cancer and video cameras to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s are some of the cases which were presented.
The Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Families, Chakir El Homrani, opened the conference calling for “people-centred health and social care” and for “diversity”.
The 8th TIC Salut i Social R+D+I Days were held in Vic on Thursday 27 and Friday 28 of September, bringing together over 400 people to exmine the role of digital therapies in improving people’s health and their quality of life. For two days the Edificio El Sucre became a space for debate and reflection on the latest advances in these therapies and their role as substitutes for or to complement traditional drugs, treatments and educational tools. The Days involved conferences, round tables and presentations of more than one hundred projects in various formats.
During the inauguration on the first day, the Mayor of Vic, Anna Erra, called the conference “a great opportunity to see how new technologies can improve the lives of people while also improving cities in terms of healthcare and social welfare”. The rector of the Universitat de Vic-Universitat Central de Catalunya (UVic-UCC), Joan Masnou, announced the intention to “try to answer questions with a high scientific value, though also with a philosophical and ethical value, while exploring any apparent contradictions”.
The inaugural act was chaired by Chakir El Homrani, the Generalitat de Catalunya’s Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Families, who stated that “we can now no longer speak of primary care without contemplating the social aspect, since putting the individual at the centre of the process is the only way ahead”, declaring himself convinced that “it’s everyone’s duty to take advantage of technology” to achieve “healthcare and social welfare centred on the individual” and in its “diversity”. El Homrani was joined by the director of the Fundació TIC Salut i Social, Josuè Sallent, who urged the audience “not to be afraid of progressing and growing”, together with the president of the Osona delegation of the Cambra de Comerç de Barcelona, Montserrat Braut.
Alzheimer, dyslexia and nanorobots for the treatment of cancer
The sessions started with a keynote speech given by Mateo Valero, director of the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, who spoke of the contributions his centre has made to the field of digital therapies and personalized medicine. This was followed by two round tables, which presented projects and shared experiences of projects which are currently underway, such as the application of digital therapies to the field of neurosciences.
This was the case of Luz Rello, a linguist and dyslexia specialist, who holds a PhD in Computer Science who has developed the Dytective mobile application. The tool, which has been scientifically proven to be effective, includes a test for the detection of the risk of dyslexia and a game for children with dyslexia that helps improve their reading and writing abilities. “At the moment we’ve shown that by playing a game on a daily basis in addition to their usual therapy, boys and girls have improved their learning more than children who haven’t used the tool”, explains Rello, who says that it is necessary to, “ensure that people are diagnosed with dyslexia as early as possible, in order that it’s no longer a hidden disease”.
Another of the talks was given by Dr Maite Garolera, a specialist in clinical psychology and Head of the Unitat de Neuropsicologia del Consorci Sanitari de Terrassa, who introduced digital therapies in the treatment patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s through the Rememory Project. The project captures the patient’s daily life via a camera which is worn on their lapel. The images are subsequently edited down into a short video which is shown to the patient in order to stimulate their memory. According to Garolera, “A clinical trial has shown changes in memory using objective test measures after using Rememory for 8 weeks”.
On the Friday, the event continued with a third round table, involving debates and the sharing of experiences involving the use of technology, and a lecture by Samuel Sánchez, of the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC). He spoke of the institute’s work in developing nanorobots which are injected into the body to transport and release drugs and fight cancer. According to Sánchez, the technology, “improves accuracy in the release of medications and stops the spread of tumour cells more efficiently” while also “reducing the treatment’s side-effects”.
Prizes awarded for the best projects
Prizes were awarded to the best projects shown cat the conference. The Institut Català de la Salut´s Innovation Prize was awarded to Osonament’s project “Robotics as a tool in psycho-social rehabilitation in mental health”; Uvic’s Disruptive Technology Prize went to Cube Technology’s myHealth Watcher; while the Organizational Transformation Prize, granted by the Vic Sud EBA, was for Capsbe’s project, which “shares information between professionals, patients-professionals, social and health services”. La Fundació Althaia gave the Digital Therapy Award to Àgora VR, a psychological intervention project to treat agoraphobia using virtual reality, developed by Psious, and the Fundació TIC Salut Social, gave the Social Impact Award to projecte B-resol, a new communication channel for adolescents.
The Euroregional Cooperation Prize given by the Euroregió Pirineus-Mediterrània, went to Eurecat and their Patient Empowerment and Case Management project; The Consorci Hospitalari de Vic’s Original/Creative Prize went to the Fundació Bit and their use of video game therapy to improve the emotional health of patients in the Hospital Son Llàtzer ICU; the Hospital de la Santa Creu’s Sustainable Prize went to the Gerència Territorial de la Catalunya Central for its teledermatology project; and the EBA Centelles Interoperability Prize went to Pediatria dels Pirineus, for its cardiac monitoring project for the diagnosis of arrhythmia in rural areas.
The closing ceremony was chaired by the first Deputy Mayor of Vic and President of the Fundació d’Estudis Superiors en Ciències de la Salut (FESS), Josep Arimany, who was joined by the rector of the UVic-UCC, Joan Masnou; the General Secretary of the Generalitat’s Ministry of Health, Laura Pelay, the head of Mediterranean Strategy and Networks of the Generalitat’s Directorate of Multilateral and European Affairs, Gemma Aubarell and the Vice President of the Regional Council of Osona, Joan Carles Rodríguez.
The R+D+I TIC Salut i Social Days are jointly organized by the Universitat de Vic – Universitat Central de Catalunya through the TIC Salut Chair and the Chair of Social Services, the Fundació TIC Salut Social, Consorci Hospitalari de Vic, the Institut Català de la Salut, the Fundació Hospital de la Santa Creu de Vic, EBA Vic Sud, EBA Centelles and the Fundació Althaia.
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