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A lack of coordinated care can negatively impact mental health treatment. At a 2010 roundtable on evidence-based medicine, Harvard University’s Dr. Ashish Jha presented evidence showing that in the US, there are billions of dollars in avoidable healthcare costs every year due to the unnecessary escalation of treatment and the recurrence of disease. More coordinated care could help alleviate this problem. According to a report published in 2016 by the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Mental Health, remote wearable sensors - including fitness trackers, smartphones, and smart skin patches used to monitor body chemistry - could help to improve health by enabling patients to more easily collect behavioural information. That collected data can in turn be transmitted to doctors, allowing for better monitoring of patient condition and treatment compliance, and even potentially increasing access to care in remote locations. In addition, because people with serious mental illnesses (including schizophrenia and mood disorders) are less physically active than the general population, the ability of wearable devices and smartphone apps to promote more active lifestyles is particularly valuable, according to an article published in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity in 2016. When it comes to a doctor’s treatment of mental and neurological disorders, patient states often fluctuate significantly over time - though doctors are only able to assess their condition based on a snapshot view during an office visit. In addition, access to any care can be difficult to obtain; in the US, for example, nearly half of the 60 million adults in the country living with mental health conditions go without any treatment, due to factors including high rates of denials of care by insurers and high out-of-pocket costs, according to a report published in 2017 by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. More reliable and continuous monitoring by a doctor could help provide a more complete and accurate picture of a patient’s health, improve the effectiveness of care, or even help anticipate when care will be needed. Meanwhile remote sensors could help contribute to the gathering of more accurate patient data - which is often self-reported, and can therefore be incomplete or biased. Before this can become a reality, however, sensor developers must ensure that devices can deliver clinical-grade data that can be meaningfully and safely used in medical decision-making.

Continuous Monitoring

KEY TRENDS

Mind yourself