AA

Towards prevention and personalised care of dementia in the European elderly population

As the European population ages, health issues like cognitive decline and dementia become increasingly prevalent. Given the limited effective therapies for these conditions, prevention becomes crucial. However, research in this field, especially concerning dementia, significantly lags behind other health problems like cancer and heart disease. Most dementia studies focus on genetic risks, overlooking behavioral factors such as lifestyle and diet, neglecting potentially modifiable factors crucial for prevention.

COMFORTAGE aims to develop holistic healthcare models to advance research, prevention, and personalised interventions for dementia and frailty, promoting individuals’ physical and mental health. The project involves medical experts, social scientists, technical specialists, Digital Innovation Hubs, and Living Labs, aiming to establish a pan-European framework centred around communities and individuals for the prevention, monitoring, and management of dementia and frailty.

The project’s objective is to assist healthcare providers in designing and implementing personalised preventive measures, fostering behavioural changes that enhance mental and physical health, overall wellbeing, and individuals’ quality of life.

Through medical, clinical, social, and technological innovations, the initiative seeks to create innovative solutions, improve care, and promote social integration. COMFORTAGE also focuses on integrating and managing diverse data sources through holistic health records, creating a European healthcare platform utilizing AI as a resource for early diagnosis and personalised care.

CyberEthics Lab. supports the project’s multidisciplinary approach by promoting compliance with ethical guidelines and existing regulations in technological development and clinical research across 13 pilot studies involving stakeholders in 8 European countries. Additionally, aiming to foster inclusive care pathways for the elderly through innovative digital solutions, CyberEthics Lab. will utilise and further develop proprietary methods to assess and evaluate the social acceptance of technology and the ethics of artificial intelligence. This involvement actively engages patients, families, caregivers, and other stakeholders in developing responsible technological solutions.

Service involved

Assessment of technology impact on privacy
We help our clients and partners to achieve their business goals while addressing ethics, privacy and cybersecurity concerns in a manner that prevents conflicts, sanctions and loss of money derived by the lack of ethical and legal compliance to national and European applicable regulations. All information technologies must respect human fundamental rights and ensure the rights of people in relation to the protection of their private life, personal data and freedom. The new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that replaced the Data Protection Directive in all EU member states on May 2018 introduces many new obligations for companies and a comprehensive set of rights for data subjects, including the right to an effective judicial remedy against a controller or a processor and the right to compensation. Therefore, in addition to being at the receiving end of an enforcement action, data controllers and processors may be subject to court proceedings and have to pay compensation to data subjects for their infringements of the GDPR. Our approach to help our clients to avoid this kind of issues consists of a holistic service composed by the following main components: providing a Data Protection Officer to drive the organization’s legal compliance action; mapping the data processed by the organisation to measure its impact on the ethical principles and legal framework; assessing the cybersecurity mechanisms used by the organisation technologies; conducting an impact assessment for all data processing mechanisms identifying ethical, legal and security risks; making recommendations for the implementation of the organisational and technical means to be compliant with the legal framework while ensuring data confidentiality (preserving authorized restrictions on information access and disclosure, including personal privacy and proprietary information protection), integrity (assurance that data is not modified or deleted in an unauthorized and undetected manner), availability (ensuring there’s timely and reliable access to and use of information) and accountability (supporting non‐repudiation, deterrence, fault isolation, intrusion detection and prevention, and after‐action recovery and legal action).
Ethics assessment of technology
We help our clients and partners in the process of critical analysis to examine the effects that the introduction and use of a technology may have on human rights, society, and the environment. This is a complex process that requires a systematic view and consideration of how technology might affect people and society at large in the short and long term. The ethical impact of technology is therefore crucial when developing and deploying new technologies, in order to mitigate the negative effects and maximise the benefits, and to enable developers, organisations and policy makers to make informed decisions. In this assessment, we assist our clients and partners to consider all relevant factors; there are several methodologies and approaches used to assess the ethical impact of technologies, including:
  • Privacy impact analysis: this type of analysis assesses the effects of technology on the privacy of individuals and their personal information. It considers the risks of monitoring and tracking, the consequences of possible data breaches and the security measures needed to protect users' privacy.
  • Social impact assessment: this type of analysis evaluates the effects of technology on society and the economy in general, considering impacts on unemployment, social equality, access to education and health, quality of life and environmental sustainability.
  • Ethical impact assessment: This type of analysis assesses the effects of technology on society's morals and values, considering impacts on social justice, accountability, transparency, human dignity and individual freedom.
  • Life cycle analysis: This type of analysis assesses the environmental impacts of technology throughout its life cycle, from production to use and end of life.
Ethical impact assessment of technologies therefore requires a multidisciplinary evaluation involving technology experts, ethics experts, legal experts, environmental experts and other stakeholders.
Social acceptance of technologies assessment
Connected, disruptive technologies permeate all aspects of our daily lives and pose challenges to the real foundation of human rights, such as the right to privacy or the freedom of speech. One could say that human values such as trust, accountability, and dignity are mutually influenced by the social acceptance of technologies. We support our clients to conceive a novel way of aligning the thus-far divergent concepts of sustainability, ethics impact, and technological innovation. By combining these three concepts, we respond to the need of a socially responsible innovation ecosystem by developing a tailored methodology for assessing users’/citizens’ social acceptance of technologies, a fundamental driver for technology market adoption. Our social acceptance framework includes six fundamental dimensions over which social acceptability (i.e. perception, motivation, trust, awareness, capacity enabling, and accountability) is measured and assessed through a two-step approach based on an online Sentiment Analysis (SA) – to create structured and actionable knowledge from the web – and the engagement of our client’s stakeholders (e.g. relevant target groups, associations of citizens, domain operators, decision makers, etc.) for the technology co-creation and communication regarding its social acceptance.