Monitoring daily habits to predict the evolution of chronic diseases

Author: Dr Francesco Ricciardi STSM Period:2020-02-10 – 2020-02-28

ECI: Yes

Hosting institution:MySphera

From ITC: No



The elderly population will increase all over Europe in the coming years and as a consequence the impact of related diseases too. Ischaemic heart diseases are the primary cause of death in EU countries for persons aged over 65 years. Mild Cognitive Impairment is a syndrome that consists in the cognitive decline that could evolve in the worst cases in diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. Unobtrusive monitoring of daily habits could be useful to promote the administration of personalized interventions to improve the evolution of chronic diseases in elderly age. MYSPHERA LOCS is a privacy-compliant system for unobtrusive monitoring of daily habits based on the use of infrared sensors and magnetic switches. With this STSM we started a collaboration and knowledge exchange between a large private research hospital and a company leader in the EU market in indoor location tracking systems. Sharing clinical and technical knowledge can foster the development of a study for the determination of a correlation between daily habits patterns and chronic diseases evolution.


The Short Term Scientific Mission lasted three weeks (19 days including the days for the trips) and started on the 10th of February. During the first week, the visitor researcher has become familiar with the hosting institution and its technology. Through the visit of the research labs, a deeper knowledge of MYSPHERA LOCS technology and its applicability to elderly medical conditions has been achieved. In the same week, research of the literature of indoor monitoring technology, chronic diseases, and artificial intelligence has been started. This research has been completed in the middle of the second week. At the end of this phase, a decision on what kind of disease to address has been made together with the staff of MYSPHERA. It has been decided to focus the attention on cardiovascular diseases, in particular on heart attack, and on mild cognitive impairment. These diseases have been selected because MYSPHERA has research and business interests on them and because the hospital has the appropriate knowledge and experience to conduct research on these two topics. By the middle of the second week, the use case writing process has been started. A further scanning followed by the selection and analysis of scientific papers has been made in order to produce the “state of the art” section of the use case report. Particular attention has been given to research works that applied Artificial Intelligence techniques on data interpretation and disease classification. During this period a continuous contact with the physicians of the visiting researcher home institution has been held in order to consider their clinical knowledge. The writing process has been completed on the second day of the last week in order to have enough time for an interval review process. The review process has been completed on Wednesday and on Thursday the use case has been finalized. On Friday 28th of February, the Short Term Scientific Mission was completed and the visiting researcher returned back home.


The research on the literature evidenced that few works make use of daily habits unobtrusive monitoring technologies to study chronic diseases of elderly age. In particular, all the works that have been presented in literature used indoor location techniques for the study of cognitive diseases but no works, from our research, are focused on cardiovascular diseases. When using these technologies in home-monitoring it is very important to ensure the system unobtrusiveness. Firstly, because it reduces annoyance for the people since they do not have to wear or bring anything with them. This allows the design of studies of longer duration and reduces the loss of data problems related to a non-continuous use of the devices. Longer studies mean more data that can be used to have a broader view of the user behaviour evolution and also of the evolution of its pathologies. Unobtrusiveness has also the advantage of not introducing any behavioural bias in the measures since the perception of the presence of a monitoring system is minimized and people usually behave more naturally. It is of primary importance that behavioural data are enriched with data coming from the clinical environment, especially during the follow up of chronic diseases. This could allow the use of Artificial Intelligence techniques that could lead to a better comprehension of the evolution of the disease itself and have a clearer comprehension of its trajectory. The collection of data coming from many individuals would potentially permit the conduction of a study over a big number of patients. It is important to ensure the presence of a sample of sufficient size in the piloting activities. A further level of data enrichment can be reached with the use of genomic data. In particular, the expression of particular genes can be correlated not only with diseases evolution but also with daily habits. In this field, the use of unsupervised machine learning could help to find new clusters and classifications that could help to formulate and verify new scientific hypotheses. All these improvements in disease comprehension could lead to the definition of better personalized therapies (not just pharmaceuticals) that could improve the Quality of Life of elderly people. It is also of primary importance the design of the living environment and furniture that offer better comfort to the elderly. At the moment, one of the limits of the LOCS system is the capability to work in a home where only one person lives. This is a prerequisite that reduces the possibility of performing piloting activities in homes where more people live together. This must be considered as a bias in the pilot activities execution since the results are reliable only for people living alone at home. All these elements were summarized in the production of two use cases (one for MCI and one for heart attack rehabilitation) and evidenced that there is an important margin for further collaborations between Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza hospital and MYSPHERA.


As described previously in the “main results” section there are many open points that can be further investigated. The main objective of the visit was to create a collaboration based on knowledge and experience sharing between two institutions: a research hospital and a market leader in indoor location tracking systems. Both have a strong experience in research and in particular in the participation in European Research Projects. The use case produced as a result of the Short Term Scientific Mission will be the starting point for the creation of further research project proposals in response to EU calls. This will result in an added value not only for the companies themselves but also for the entire EU community and in particular for the Sheld-on Working Group Two on ICT Developments.

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