Can Smartphones and Digital Health Trackers Revolutionize Mental Health Care?

Can technology solve some of our biggest mental health challenges? That’s the key question being addressed by some of the nation’s top technology and mental health experts during the McLean Hospital Technology in Psychiatry Summit next week (November 6-7) at Harvard Medical School.

“Tremendous advances in science and technology have enabled greater understanding of the brain, and yet mental health care remains inaccessible and relatively ineffective for much of the world’s population,” said Laura Germine, PhD, director of McLean’s Institute for Technology in Psychiatry (ITP) and founder of TestMyBrain.org. “Through this summit, we are bringing together thought leaders in health care, data science, technology, industry, patient advocacy, and academic research to build on the promise of technology in the diagnosis and delivery of mental health care.”

Among the who’s who of presenters for the two-day summit are Tom Insel, MD, former NIMH director, Ken Duckworth, MD, of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Kumar Garg, JD, of the Society for Science and the Public and former White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Carey Goldberg from WBUR, Gary Gottlieb, MD, CEO of Partners in Health, Roz Picard, ScD, of the Affective Computing Research Group at MIT, and Sarah Lenz Lock, JD, of the AARP. A complete list of the more than 30 presenters is available at mcleanhospital.org.

According to Justin T. Baker, MD, PhD, scientific director of the ITP and conference speaker, attendees will examine the current state of mental health care and determine how the use of advanced technology can build a more accessible future.

“This is an exciting time because technology is opening new pathways in terms of how we may use it to understand and better treat mental illnesses,” said Baker. “However, with these developments come new challenges, both in how clinicians and researchers should adapt to the changing landscape of tools for assessment and treatment—and how, as a community of individuals with diverse talents and backgrounds, we should engage with one another to build a future where anyone, anywhere can access basic psychiatric care.”

Baker and Germine, who with the help of McLean President Scott L. Rauch, MD, Chief Scientific Officer Kerry J. Ressler, MD, PhD, and Medical Director of the ITP Ipsit Vahia, MD, organized the summit, noted that this event is intended to encourage open dialogue and brainstorming.

“This is a unique opportunity to bring together Kendall Square, Silicon Valley, Harvard Medical School and other progressive thinkers from across the country to tackle a topic that has the potential to impact millions of people worldwide,” said Germine. “Anyone who has an interest in discussing how we can leverage technology to improve mental health care should plan to join us and be part of the conversation.”

A limited number of tickets for the summit are still available.

The Technology on Psychiatry Summit is sponsored by AJ Trustey Mental Health Research Fund, THE Ride for Mental Health, Valera Health, Draper Laboratories, the Global Council on Brain Health, the Boston Child Study Center, Mindstrong, New England Genetics, Qualcomm, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

McLean Hospital is the largest psychiatric affiliate of Harvard Medical School and a member of Partners HealthCare. In 2017, it was named the #1 hospital for psychiatric care in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. For more information about McLean, visit mcleanhospital.org or follow the hospital on Facebook or Twitter.

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