Ginger.io, the startup from MIT can detect mental illness using data from smartphones

Ginger.io, the startup from MIT can detect mental illness using data from smartphonesGinger.io is an app developed by MIT researchers which can help doctors as well as patients to detect mental illness issues. It opens up a new way for patients to communicate with their healthcare providers effectively.

Being a behavioral analytics company, Ginger.io uses the data gathered from your smartphone to detect changes in your behavior. The company claims that small changes in the behavior will help them identify if the patient is suffering from mental issues like depression or anxiety. These changes can be anything from decreased messaging levels to less travel as compared to your routine levels. Identifying the illness early will help doctors intervene at the right time.

Gathering data from the smartphone of a patient makes sense, because almost everyone today relies on their phone for making social contact. This information compared with the common symptoms of people who suffer from mental issues like depression can help doctors identify problems much before it evolves into something worse.

Patients are asked to fill out a survey regarding their condition, normal routine and medication. Further, data from GPS, phone logs, sensors like accelerometer etc. during normal use is taken into account.

Using this information, significant behavioral changes in the person can be detected. Once such abnormality is identified, the app will alert both the user as well as the doctor of the change in his behavior. And if the changes are serious, the app will automatically turn the green box in the doctor’s office to red.

“In most of those cases, the institutions have already set up care-management programs and teams responsible for keeping people healthy, so when they get the alert, they call and see what’s really going on,” says Anmol Madan, CEO and co-founder of Ginger.io. “Then, they make that decision of having the patient come in to see a doctor or handle the issue over the phone.”

The app is built on the research conducted by the MIT Media lab and is currently being used by a number of patients in over 25 healthcare facilities and academic institutions in US. Further, there’s even a research being conducted using the app for monitoring minors who have been diagnosed with psychosis.

Madan adds that the healthcare system is shifting its focus on keeping their patients healthy and preventing illness instead of curing them.

Ginger.io is expected to grow significantly in the future and co-founder Madan plans to scale through the healthcare system in the country in the next two years.

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About the author

Joel is an experienced blogger who covers all kinds of news relating to tech. He is a huge fan of Android and can be seen playing around with his phone in his spare time.