Finnish Student Health System, Meru Health and eClinicalHealth team up for depression study

By Laura Lovett
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Depression among college students has become a hot topic on university campuses as the number of students seeking treatment for this condition continues to grow

Now Finnish Student Health System, Meru Health and eClinicalHealth are teaming up to study the efficacy and feasibility of a digital therapeutic intervention for depression in a randomized-controlled clinical trial. 

“The number of depression diagnoses in students treated at the FSHS has increased by 50 percent within the last ten years,” Pauli Tossavainen, mental health medical director at the FSHS, said in a statement. “New ways are needed to help these students. We are excited to join forces with Meru Health to investigate how a digital therapy program for depression works in students.”

Researchers plan to recruit 120 students with depression from the FSHS’s units all over Finland. Meru Health's digtial therapeutic will be delivered to participants via their smartphone. The data will be collected and analyzed with a remote, direct-to-patient, virtual clinical trial platform, called Clinpal, which is developed by eClinicalHealth, according to a statement. 

Twenty percent of students have some symptoms of depression and anxiety, according to studies conducted by the FSHS. 

“We’re delighted to join a research project with the FSHS to develop the treatment of depression in students,” Anu Raevuori, medical director at Meru Health, said in a statement. “Meru Health’s therapy program, which is used via a smartphone application, offers a real-time digital contact with a therapist, and the preliminary outcomes achieved through the program are promising.”

Meru, which has headquarters in Palo Alto, California and Helsinki, Finland, has developed its digital therapeutic for depression based on a stress reduction intervention that was developed in the 1970s at the University of Massachusetts.

Meru Health has made some major partnerships in the last year. In August the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, part of Sutter Health in California, selected Meru to provide digital programs to help with physician depression and burn out. 

Scotland-based eClinicalHealth has worked with big names before. In 2015, the company teamed up with Sanofi to develop a fully remote clinical trial. 

”Meru Health engaged us early in the design of the protocol and operational execution. This is the ideal situation, allowing us to provide them with the most value using the Clinpal rapid development and deployment technology and services package for this exciting, fully mobile-based CNS trial,” Karl Landert, CEO of eClinicalHealth, said in a statement.