psychiatric apps

In my first article, I noted that wearable devices and the digital health movement are having a greater presence in the medical specialty of psychiatry. The American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) annual meeting this past month in Toronto featured a greater presence and enthusiasm for digital technology than in previous years.

Sessions at the APA highlighted how apps could be incorporated into everyday practice. Researchers from McMaster University, the University of Southern California, University of California, Davis, and Harvard University highlighted trends in digital mental health.

Many practitioners [are] interested in using apps to enhance their care and stay competitive and relevant as [the] technology world expands,” said Michelle Blackmore, Ph.D, from Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

Blackmore stated that apps can help with assessment & self-monitoring, psychoeducation, tracking & skills training, and social support & peer support. These apps can encourage client engagement.

Mobile technologies may be the next frontier in health behavior change,” concluded Blackmore. “Apps assist with outreach and engagement among a much larger and more diverse population than we’ve been able to reach before.


Apps in everyday practice

psychiatric apps
Johns Hopkins, Phipps Psychiatry Guide

Exhibitors also demonstrated apps that could aid physicians. Johns Hopkins University was also present, featuring their new Phipps Psychiatry Guide in collaboration with Unbound Medicine. The app, available for both iOS and Android, educates primary care physicians and beginning psychiatry residents on evaluation, assessment, and considerations.

psychiatric apps
Quotient ADHD System

Even new diagnostic tools could help with attention disorders. One such application, Quotient ADHD System, is a 15-minute computerized assessment for ADHD that tracks the patient’s head movements to sense deficits in attention performance. The app runs on Mac OS X and helps track symptoms from visit to visit. One iPhone app featured in the exhibit hall, MedOptimizer ADD/ADHD, can help parents track their child’s symptoms, side effects, and medications.

Psychiatrists can develop and take advantage of the digital health movement and find innovative ways to treat and monitor our patients who suffer from mental illnesses,” Renee Binder, MD, current APA President and Associate Dean of UC San Francisco School of Medicine, said in an exculsive interview for The Doctor Weighs In

This is particularly important today when healthare delivery and reimbursement systems are being redesigned at a rapid pace and we need to increase patient access to mental healthcare and demonstrate the quality of care that we provide.

With these continued developments, technology can augment psychiatric practice and enhance the treatment and assessment of patients.

In my last article, I’ll take a final look at digital technologies at the American Psychiatric Association conference, and how social media and telemedicine are playing a greater role in psychiatry.

Steven Chan, MD, MBA (@StevenChanMD)
Dr. Chan is a Clinical Informatics fellow at UC San Francisco (UCSF)'s Division of Hospital Medicine, serving as editorial boardmember for the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) Mental Health, and develops cutting-edge research in the areas of digital mental health, with applications for cultural psychiatry and underserved minority health. Steve's ideas, thoughts, and research have been featured in JAMA, Healthcare, JMIR (Journal of Medical Internet Research), Wired, PBS, and NPR Ideastream. Steve serves as Vice Chair for the Workgroup on Mental Health & Psychiatric Apps at the American Psychiatric Association (APA), a part of the Committee on Mental Health Information Technology.



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