How the Army uses data to personalize mental-health care

Patient-generated data allows the Army to track mental health progress.

A surge of veterans requiring behavioral health services has forced the Army to integrate patient-reported outcomes into a healthcare specialty that has often been ignored when it comes to data collection.

Through the development of its Behavioral Health Data Portal (BHDP), the Army is furthering its approach toward individualized mental-health care by collecting and analyzing patient-reported data, according to the Harvard Business Review.

Using standardized screening tools developed by behavioral health practitioners, the Army was able to screen for conditions like PTSD or depression. Instead of relying on paper forms, patients use a laptop or tablet to input information, which is analyzed by the BHDP.


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In the past, the Army has used a data-driven approach to predict suicide risks.

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The individualized data allows providers to track progression among soldiers, even as they change locations or providers. Although the authors note that BHDP data does not replace the clinical assessment, the system offers providers and patients “a richer, more detailed means of seeing the effects of care” and helps facilitate precision medicine that is particularly important when treating mental illness.

Patient-generated data is taking on a larger role in healthcare and has been shown to improve care outcomes and open the door for more individualized care. Two recently announced pilot projects by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT are focusing on the benefits of and barriers to patient-generated data collection.

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