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Smartphone App Aimed At Revolutionizing Mental Health Treatment

Update Date: Jul 02, 2014 08:49 AM EDT
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Researchers have developed a new smartphone based system that detects changes in patients' behavioral patterns and then transmits them to professionals in real time. 

Researchers believe the new technology would transform the way in which patients with mental illness are monitored and treated. 

According to the reports from World Health Organization, mental illness accounts for 90 percent of all reported suicides. 

The newly devised technology has the potential to greatly improve the response time and efficacy of clinical psychiatrists. 

"The diagnosis of mental health disease is based only on behavioral patterns," said Dr. Uri Nevo, in the press release. "In some cases, a patient is discharged from the hospital into a vacuum, with no idea how to monitor his or her new state of mind. Because most people own smartphones today, we thought, 'Why not harness the smartphone, a reservoir of daily activities, to monitor behavioral patterns?'

"Bipolar disorder, for example, starts with a manic episode," added Dr. Nevo. "A patient who usually makes five or ten calls a day might suddenly start making dozens of calls a day. How much they talk, text, how many places they visit, when they go to bed and for how long - these are all indicators of mental health and provide important insights to clinicians who want to catch a disorder before it is full blown."

Researcher on the technology, which is basically a smartphone application, was presented in March at the Israel Society for Biological Psychiatry's annual conference. The team is in talks with other medical centers in Israel and overseas for expanding its clinal trials. 

"We have a way to go until such a system will be proven effective and adopted by the psychiatric community," added Dr. Nevo in the press release. "However, psychiatrists, as well as U.S. federal policymakers in the field, agree that such tools are necessary to improve psychiatric practice."

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