The University of Manchester has developed a remote digital data collection system via a smartphone app which is aims to use to test it to see if it can predict an individual’s psychosis relapse.

Led by the University of Manchester, the smartphone app will be tested across six higher education institutions and their partnering NHS trusts across the country.

Called CONNECT, the project will recruit up to 1100 people who have experienced psychosis, and have them test the app over a 12-month period.

The app combines active and passive remote symptoms, emotional, physical and contextual monitoring alongside regular clinical assessments. The collected data will then be used to develop a relapse prediction algorithm and an adaptive sampling algorithm using AI methods.

John Ainsworth, professor of health informatics at The University of Manchester, said: “The system we will be developing at Manchester provides real-time and in-context patient-generated symptom data, obtained through our remote digital data collection system technology.”

The remote digital data collection system sends regular prompts to the user, to encourage them to spend 90 seconds completing a digital questionnaire at set times in the week.

It will also test whether data collected passively – such as with smartphone sensors or wearables – helps improve the predictive algorithm.

Up until now, because each patient’s early warning signs of an impending relapse are different, it has been difficult to design a system that can predict a relapse. However, being able to foresee such situations will help patients access time-sensitive, preventative treatment.

Principal investigator, Professor Sandra Bucci, said: “The system has the exciting potential of providing advanced warning of the need for support and intervention. It also has the potential to give mental health teams a clearer picture of the ebb and flow of an individual’s mental health trajectory.

“Our remote digital data collection system could be a crucial advance in the care of people with psychosis.”

The £12.5m study is being conducted by the University of Manchester in partnership with The McPin Foundation. Funding comes largely from the Wellcome Trust, who last year also committed funding to the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health to ensure global standards for genomic data sharing are useable.

Lynsey Bilsland, head of mental health translation at Wellcome, added: “There have been huge strides recently into improving the outcomes for patients with psychosis but we still need further research into better detection of the early warning signs. Our support recognises the potential of the CONNECT system to enable early identification of patients at risk of relapse. The insight gained could be transformative to how we manage psychosis.”