Triumf: supporting treatment goals and mental wellbeing of chronically ill children

Triumf is developing a mobile health (mHealth) platform for chronically ill children, offering psychological support and helping to cope better with treatment. The data from the game is gathered into a visual dashboard for medical personnel helping them more easily and effectively monitor the treatment.

In the game, children evolve their inner superhero who fights the Disease Monster that long time ago took over the city of Triumfland. As they battle with the Disease Monster, the aim is to help other residents of the magical city, overcome smaller challenges, acquire knowledge about the disease and learn healthy habits. Research-based psychological support is embedded in the game through a virtual friend who is ever-present with the child during the game, keeping an eye on how well they are coping and giving personalized support.

The Triumf mHealth platform was originally developed for children with cancer. “Children with cancer are isolated from their social environment, their loved ones and friends because they spend much of their time in hospital. Our game becomes part of their treatment in a playful and engaging way, which gives them a chance to feel how important they are in a game environment,” says Triumf CEO Kadri Haljas.

The app is constantly gathering data about the child, which are analyzed and presented in a visual dashboard for medical personnel. It represents a major added value for doctors – they see the list of their patients and an overview of the indicators on how well they are coping, colour-coded red, yellow or green. Doc-tors can use the data to more effectively monitor and plan subsequent treatment. Triumf thus consists of two parts: the game for patients and the dashboard for medical personnel.

It is important to note that the solution facilitates communication between the child, parents and doctors. The relations-hips between a family and a chronically ill child change in such a difficult new situation, but Triumf platform allows them to keep track of what the child knows and learns about his or her illness, how they cope with it and how they are feeling.

Mental health in the focus

Haljas said Triumf’s emphasis lies in prevention of problems so that psychological support creates a healthier present and future for sick children. “With our app, parents and medical personnel can quickly and comprehensibly get information on how a child is coping and this helps to detect psychological problems effectively and in a timely manner, that otherwise would get attention only when serious problems have already developed,” says Haljas.

With our app, parents and medical personnel can quickly and comprehensibly get information on how a child is coping and this helps to detect psychological problems effectively and in a timely manner, that otherwise would get attention only when serious problems have already developed.

The idea of developing an innovative health technology platform for chronically ill children to offer psychological support occurred two years ago to Haljas, who has worked as a clinical psychologist and rese-archer. “As I was working on my doctorate, I found I wanted to continue clinical work, but I had to find a different practical solution for helping sick children as I was working in a different language environment in Helsinki,” says the Triumf CEO.

Today the Triumf team is eight people strong – all experts in their field and most employed at the start-up fulltime. With health technologies, it is important that the target group is included in the design process and the main emphasis of development has been placed on creating a solution that is both attractive and effective. “The strength of our mHealth platform is that we have game developers with over ten years of experience who have dealt with the developing the technical side of the app with precisely these critical issues in mind – ensuring that the game looks great and is fun to play,” says Haljas.

Triumf stands apart from competitors in that it’s a platform that can be used by patients with different chronic illnesses. The existing solutions are specifically single-disease. There’s a diabetes app called MySugr, Re-Mission for cancer patients and the various game-oriented solutions from GEMH Lab that were developed to combat specific mental health problems. Haljas says their app is clearly different as there actually are no other platforms with embedded psychological support for child-ren and adults suffering from various chronic diseases.

“Chronic diseases tend to stay with the patient for the rest of their life and at some point, patients need skills that they previously didn’t need. Our goal is for our patients to be successful in coping with their condition even when they no longer play the game,” says Haljas.

Expansion plans

The Triumf app is currently available in Estonian, English and Finnish and has successfully been tested with paediatric cancer patients in Estonia and Finland. There is basic readiness for expanding the game for diabetes and asthma patients and additional languages (Spanish and Russian) will be added shortly.

From mid-2018, clinical trials will begin at the Tallinn Children’s Hospital and Tartu University Hospital, and cooperation with Finnish and English colleagues is also in the pipeline. Throughout 2019 subsequent randomized clinical trials will be conducted to measure effectiveness compared to conventional treatment. At the same time, the team plans to expand to Latin American markets in connection with an accelerator programme there. The goal is to improve availability of psychological support in regions where in general treatment is not accessible – yet where almost every child has a smartphone.

In the middle of this year, two team members are prepared to move to Chile to assess the situation and cooperation prospects there. Negotiations for entering the North American and English markets are also dealt with regularly.

In Finland, Triumf is part of a consortium that in cooperation with universities, corporations and start-ups is working on digital and gamification solutions for improving the hospitalization experience, focusing on surgical care in the first phase. As a consortium member, Triumf is able to pilot its mHealth game not only in Finnish hospitals but also in Singapore and Melbourne hospitals – this will happen over the next two years. “We have the opportunity to cover many problems and offer effective treatment support that would not otherwise be possible if we relied only on human resources,” says Haljas.