Techniker Krankenkasse is the first health insurance company to offer its policyholders the Living Well app. Clinical studies are currently about to launch in Germany, Poland, the USA and the UK. In the future, Living Well will be available to anyone insured in Germany as a digital health application (DiGA).
The Living Well app is based on lived experiences of psycho-oncologists and patients and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). The app goes beyond the classic standard and includes a variety of methods for managing and coping with the cancer diagnosis, as well as, for strengthening their personal resources. The psycho-oncologists Dipl.-Psych. Christa Diegelmann and Dipl.-Psych. Margarete Isermann, authors, speakers and heads of the "Curriculum Psycho-oncology" certified by the German Cancer Society, were involved in the development of the app from the very beginning.
In addition, patients were involved at an early stage of development in order to map their needs. “Patients with a cancer diagnosis find themselves in an extremely stressful situation. They have existential fears,” explains Margarete Isermann. “However, therapy should not only focus on the stresses but also enable the patient to cope with the challenges, practise new behaviours and strengthen their own powers of self-efficacy. And this approach is reflected in the app.”
Great need for psycho-oncological support
According to the Robert Koch Institute, around half a million people are diagnosed with cancer in Germany every year. Experts estimate that around a third of them have psychological symptoms and need treatment. However, the care structures and thus the possibility of psycho-oncological support, which accompanies the patient over the treatment period, is often missing. Especially after being discharged from the hospital, many patients are initially on their own. Living Well can close this gap and create access to a psycho-oncological programme," says Piotr Grudziński, CEO of Prosoma Germany. "At the same time, it is a great addition to other self-help tools and can make it easier for patients who are sceptical about psychotherapy to get started."
Interactive and tailored
The app offers a 12-week therapy programme for cancer patients, which should ideally be introduced shortly after the diagnosis and can support the patient over the following weeks of treatment. It includes modules on psycho-education, dealing with challenging emotions and stress management, resources that aim to support the patient, and useful exercises such as breathing or mindfulness practices. Through the use of artificial intelligence and interactive exercises, the app can respond to the individual needs of the patients. As a mobile application, Living Well is also extremely accessible as patients can access it anytime and from anywhere. "Experts from the fields of user experience, data science and game design were involved in the app development," summarises Piotr Grudziński. "The common goal was to develop a scientifically based and tailor-made therapy offer for each individual patient, which motivates them to complete the entire programme and to introduce healthy habits into their everyday life."
On the way to the DiGA
With its first product, Living Well, Prosoma is now active in four markets: Germany, the USA, the UK and Poland. Clinical studies are in preparation in all four markets. In Germany, Prosoma is conducting the study in collaboration with the Asklepios Tumor Center in Hamburg and under the direction of PD Dr. Georgia Schilling in the first half of 2022 and then applying for the DiGA recognition. Since April 2022, Techniker Krankenkasse is offering its members, to find out more visit the TK website.