Providers Use Smartphone Apps To Track Mental Health Symptoms

January 7, 2015 in News

Developers are creating smartphone applications aimed at treating various mental health conditions, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Use of Mobile Apps for Mental Health Care

According to the Journal, some health care providers are pushing the use of mobile apps to monitor patients’ mental health. For example, one app created by Ginger.io is recommended by gynecologists for patients who are near the end of their pregnancies to track:

  • How far the patients travel daily;
  • How long the patients talk on their phones; and
  • How often the patients send text messages to friends.

The app was used in efforts to determine whether such data could help detect symptoms of postpartum depression by comparing patients’ data against weekly surveys given to diagnose depression.

Meanwhile, NIH has granted $2.42 million to Harvard School of Public Health researchers to develop a smartphone app that will analyze when individuals lock and unlock their phones to track sleeping patterns in people with psychiatric conditions.

In addition, University of Michigan researchers are working on an app that can record and analyze individuals’ vocal patterns to predict whether a person could be manic or depressive.

Providers’ Concerns

Despite the potential of such apps, some providers remain cautious about using them without hard evidence that the benefits are worth the cost in time and expense.

Providers also have expressed concerns about patient privacy and data security (Walker, Wall Street Journal, 1/5).

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