Research taps smartphone, app in examining patient behavior and health outcomes

Nearly a dozen healthcare research facilities are conducting studies and pilot programs that tap the use of a smartphone and a behavioral health analytic engine to improve understanding of how patient behavior affects health outcomes.

The studies are being conducted through the use of's behavioral software academic medical centers that include Partners HealthCare (Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital and McLean Hospital), Duke University, UC Davis and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, according to a blog post.

One of the studies being conducted at the University of the California at San Francisco (UCSF) is measuring digital intervention with patients suffering from depressive disorder. Another focuses on reducing hospital readmissions for patients with psychiatric conditions by identifying early warning signs of a patient having trouble managing their illness.

The UCSF study, led by Patricia Arean, M.D., and Adam Gazzaley, M.D., involves hundreds of patients being provided intervention via digital interaction with no in-person contact. "Patient feedback on the experience has been overwhelmingly positive thus far, and we're excited to learn more about what digital interventions can do for mental health," Arean said in the blog post.

The research efforts illustrate a transformation expected to bring about better care coordination, greater efficiency and active involvement of patients in medical treatment, as noted in a recent CIO Review commentary written by Mary Annecharico, chief information officer at Henry Ford Health Systems. In addition, the key to success with mHealth apps, as noted by IBM's Dan Pelino, is to provide specific solutions in a secure manner as devices and platforms.

"When clinical apps are designed for mobile with the clinician and patient user experience in mind, mobile will deliver even greater value to our medical system," Pelino writes at TechCrunch.

The technology is also the focus of a UCSF study on detecting early-warning signs of heart disease.

"Our ultimate goal through this study and others is to provide a thermometer or 'check engine' light for people to be empowered in managing their own health and risk," Jeffrey Olgin, chief of the UCSF Division of Cardiology, said in the post.

At the Duke University, researchers are examining the use of the tool for postoperative recovery settings and helping patients track recovery.

For more information:
- read the blog

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