Intro to STARS

A consortium of five leading European academic hospitals uses the European commission’s Pre-commercial Procurement (PCP) funding scheme to challenge and stimulate European industry to:

Design and develop a resilient support tool, to be applied in the field of patients, planned for surgery, with the aim of reducing stress and anxiety as well as improving the health condition of the patient during the complete care path.

The available budget for the development of this innovative solution is 4.7 million euro of which 3.26 million euro (including VAT) will flow as innovation subsidies to the industry.

“The stress levels at the moment of introducing anesthetics just before starting a clinical procedure can be compared to stress levels in a situation of war” - Dr. H. Sauer

Figure 1: Reducing stress before anesthesia Image with permission of Dr. H. Sauer, Direktor, Institut für Medizinische Psychophysik, Waltrop

The Horizon 2020 project named “Empowering Patients by Professional Stress Avoidance and Recovery Services” (short form: STARS) started in January 2017, the project duration will be 48 months.

STARS will invite the industry to tender to develop personalised eHealth solutions in order to reduce stress related to healthcare procedures (see amount of stress experienced for planned surgery in figure 1). Reduction of the stress, experienced by patients, will lower the harmful side-effects of sedating drugs, shorten hospital stay, shorten recovery time and relieve carers and related persons from continuous assistance. 

  Figure 2: Stress experienced along patient's journey in case of planned surgery. (Courtesy of Ignacio Muñoz Carvajal MD, PhD, Reina Sofia University Hospital, Spain)

The eHealth solution will target the reduction of healthcare related stress as early as in the preclinical phase, proceeding through hospitalization until the end of the aftercare period (see figure 2). The solution will have to combine the experience of caregivers with the empowerment of the patients to actively influence the process by expressing their state of mind and needs.

  Figure 3: Clinical Phases, in which stress has to be reduced

The project is composed of a consortium of 11 entities where all members are involved at different degrees in the development and implementation of the project tasks and deliverables. Given the profile and capacities of each partner the contribution varies and has complementary purpose. The overall project management, hence the lead of the international consortium, lies with Maastricht University.

  Figure 4: partners of the consortium

The consortium will manage the project and define the need (what is important to reduce stress). The whole technical development will be performed by companies through tendering and can be divided in three sequential phases: basic idea (phase 1), concept (phase 2), and prototype (phase 3). During phase 3, the prototype will be submitted to a limited number of patient’s studies in order to assess the compliance of the system to stress reduction.