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Telefonica reveals future plans following Parkinson’s trial


Richard Handford

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Telefonica has announced the results of a recently finished pilot that used mobile technology to remotely monitor and treat patients with Parkinson’s disease, as the operator and its partners decide on future research and how to commercialise the technology.

The pilot project was called Help and was run by the operator along with the Garraf Health Consortium, the Abat Foundation and the Polytechnic University of Catalonia.

Help was designed to improve quality of life for Parkinson’s patients by monitoring them with mobile technology and then using it to control their medication.

The system consisted of a small sensor which followed a patient’s movement and a subcutaneous pump that delivered medication. If the sensor detected a deterioration in the patient’s condition then it informed a service centre which delivered instructions via the mobile network to the drug pump for an increased dosage.

When the patient improved, the dosage was decreased through the same process. The patient’s doctors monitored their progress at the service centre.

The pilot involved only seven patients (six in Spain) and ran from November 2012 until March 2013. In four of the six Spanish patients significant benefits were recorded, said Telefonica. The seventh (in Israel) showed promising results too, it said.

Looking forward, the operator will carry on the research via another project called Rempark, which aims to improve the algorithms used by the sensors in the original trial. This will be a larger trial involving 60 users.

A new spin-off company called Sense4Care has been started to commercialise the sensor, although Telefonica is not a shareholder.

However the operator sits on an industrial advisory board for Sense4Care’s sensor and will include it in its device portfolio.

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