Monday, December 28, 2015

Will Emerging Technology Change Treatment of Psychiatric Illness?

The development of new technologies to facilitate disease management is a burgeoning field, but experts say that more research is needed to determine how effective such products will be for patients with psychiatric illness and how best to incorporate these products into a treatment plan.

In a recent Psychiatric News article, APA Director of Research Phillip Wang, M.D., Dr.P.H.; John Kane, M.D., of Zucker Hillside Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital; Dror Ben-Zeev, Ph.D., of the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth; and Ken Weingardt, Ph.D., scientific director at the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Northwestern University, address several ways digital resources might be leveraged to support psychiatric care.

The article describes the results of a study by Kane and colleagues, which evaluated the feasibility and safety of a digital health feedback system (DHFS) in 12 patients with bipolar disorder and 16 patients with schizophrenia. The system includes pills embedded with tiny ingestible sensors that emit a signal after being swallowed, alerting caregivers and clinicians that the medication has been ingested. (For the purposes of the study, the pill with the embedded DHFS was not pharmacologically active.)

No adverse events occurred due to the ingestion sensor, and none of the study participants developed worsening of psychosis due to use of the DHFS. Of the 27 patients who completed the study, 19 found the DHFS concept easy to understand, 21 said they would like to receive reminders on their cell phone if they forgot to take their medications, and 24 said they believed it would be useful to them. (The DHFS device is pending approval by the Food and Drug Administration.)

In another study, Ben-Zeev and colleagues examined the feasibility and acceptability of a mobile phone application called FOCUS by 33 individuals with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder over a one-month period. The app offers users prescheduled and on-demand resources to facilitate symptom management, mood regulation, medication adherence, among other things

Of the 33 study participants, 32 used the system on 86.5% of days they had the device, an average of 5.2 times a day. Approximately 62% of use of the FOCUS intervention was initiated by the participants, and 38% of use was in response to automated prompts. Approximately 90% of participants rated the intervention as highly acceptable and usable. The study also revealed significant reductions in psychotic symptoms, depression, and general psychopathology after one month of FOCUS use.

To read the full Psychiatric News article, see “Technologies Promise to Aid Medication Adherence, but Effectiveness Varies.”

(Image: Kostenko Maxim/Shutterstock)


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