June 21, 2013

MONARCA: A Shot In the Arm for Healthcare

The advent of the MONARCA self-assessment system is a significant shot in the arm for health care. It adds a whole new dimension to the way we perceive preventive health care management and the use of mobile applications to manage health care. It can be dubbed as a breakthrough innovation in health monitoring systems for the simple reason that it focuses on mental illness management, unquestionably a neglected area.

Who Benefits?

Patients with bipolar disorder are the beneficiaries of personal monitoring systems like MONARCA. Bipolar disorder is a manic-depressive disorder characterized by sudden surge or decline in mood and energy levels. The situation is pretty alarming in the United States. As per the information shared by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), bipolar disorder affects around 2.6% (5.7 million) of the adult population in the U.S. It also goes on to state that the onset of the disorder can be as early as 25 years of age.

What does MONARCA do?

The fact that bipolar disorder cannot be cured makes it all the more important to bank upon a robust persuasive personal monitoring system like MONARCA.  It is a mobile monitoring system that objectively records data, allows for self-monitoring and gives detailed feedback to the user. The system can be effortlessly used by physicians, patients and relatives.

How does MONARCA achieve it?

By marrying the benefits of technology with a methodical mental illness management program, the outcome had to be a winner. This preventive mechanism ‘cajoles’ the patient in some way by letting them identify the Early Warning Signs (EWS) of the disorder.

The MONARCA system is integrated into an Android application that allows a user to enter self-assessment data, gather sensor-based information, get feedback and manage their course of medication. With rich features like an alarm mechanism, automatic trigger and a tidy visualization screen, Android developers working on MONARCA have left no stone unturned in making it a user friendly application. There is a website where all this information can be accessed and analyzed. High degree of customization is provided and comes in quite handy considering the fact that symptoms of bipolar disorder vary from patient to patient.

MONARCA is an outcome of meticulous research and collaboration with psychiatrists and patients. It is also a giant leap in areas of healthcare which were left untouched by technological interventions. There is no denying the fact that custom mobile applications hold the potential to bring about a sea-change in the way technology impacts our lives.

MONARCA paves the way towards future healthcare strategies. Watch the video below to see more about how MONARCA works.


The current MONARCA system has been developed by a research team at the Pervasive Interaction Technology Laboratory (PIT Lab) at IT University of Copenhagen in collaboration with a group of clinicians and patients from the Affective Disorder Clinic at the University Hospital of Copenhagen. More information on the project is available on the project home page:


The MONARCA project is funded as a STREP project under the FP7 European Framework program.