ASPIRIN SOCIAL AWARD FOR THE JOURVIE PROJECT
"The app is easy to use and helps patients to keep their nutrition diaries digitally.”
research spoke with Ekaterina Karabasheva.
Where did the idea for Jourvie come from?
A few years ago, I was suffering from anorexia myself. A key element of my treatment was keeping nutrition diaries, which I then discussed with my therapist. Of course, I was not keen to fill out these printed forms in public. I found it embarrassing, and often left them at home. Many patients feel the same way. However, this leaves therapists without essential information that can help them identify behavior and thought patterns related to the illness, making effective treatment virtually impossible. There were no smartphones back then, so I typed my diaries into my cell phone and saved them as text messages. It only occurred to me later that there was a better solution.
How did this develop into an app?
I developed the concept in 2013 as part of my master’s dissertation in communication science. I discussed it with doctors from the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Berlin Charité hospital. The question at the heart of the idea was always, "What do the patients need, and what do the therapists need?” Of course, it was the software developer on our team who was responsible for the technical implementation. Then, in 2014, I founded Jourvie, a charitable company that now consists of a four-strong team. The app has been available free of charge for Android devices since the beginning of 2015. It provides the patients with a straightforward way of keeping their nutrition diaries digitally. The app also gives them additional tips on dealing with difficult situations such as bingeing. Users can also save their own motivational strategies.
We are now working on software that will serve as a platform for direct data sharing between patients and their therapists
Are you planning any more developments?
Yes, because more and more therapists and nutritionists are asking how they can use Jourvie. We are now not only working on a version for the iPhone, but also on software that will serve as a platform for direct data sharing between patients and their therapists. We are already working on a test version. We are also constantly receiving new ideas from users, researchers and other interested parties. For example, many patients would like to have motivating images, videos or music.
What is it like to work as a charitable initiative?
Our workplace in the Social Impact Lab in Berlin gave us a key platform. In the early phase of our company, we were active there and were also able to network and share ideas with other start-ups and social companies. Our team is continuing to develop our idea – unfortunately we are not able to devote ourselves to it full-time. We are dependent on funding and financial support. In future, we hope to receive more financing from research projects and health insurers.
What does this award mean for your project?
We are using the prize money for the development of the app, but the award itself will also open doors for us. The Bayer name will be an enormous help to boost interest in our project from professional institutions. In July, for example, we exhibited with the Bayer Science & Education Foundation at IdeenExpo 2015 in Hanover. In addition, we were also able to make important contacts, with the German Competence Network Obesity for instance.
What about cooperation partners from research and medicine?
Berlin Charité is still our most important partner from therapy and science. We are currently also planning a research project with another clinic to check the Jourvie therapeutic results scientifically. This involves comparing two groups that have been treated with and without the app. We aim to use these results to persuade health insurers and other potential partners of the benefits of Jourvie.