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Smartphone app may revolutionize mental health treatment
Date:7/1/2014

ar disorder, for example, starts with a manic episode," said 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."

Researchers conducted two Helsinki-approved clinical trials with the cooperation and direction of leading psychiatrists from Geha Mental Health Center and Be'er Ya'acov Mental Health Center. In the trials, the application was installed on the smartphones of 20 patients suffering from bipolar, unipolar/depressive, or schizo-affective disorders, as well as on the phones of 20 healthy participants. Over the course of six months, the app acquired data from patients' phones and sent the information to distant computers, where advanced algorithms analyzed the data to detect changes in patients' sleep, communication, mobility, and vocal patterns. The researchers further developed a visualization system that displayed the summarized information to psychiatrists, providing them with instant insight into the behavioral trends of their patients.

Preserving patient privacy

According to Dr. Nevo, a patient using the app has full control over who has access to the behavioral patterns recorded and analyzed by it. "We take great care to protect the patient's privacy," said Dr. Nevo. "The content of calls and texts is completely ignored and never acquired or recorded, and any identifying parameters of the patient or of his contacts, are irreversibly masked and are obviously not used."

Psychiatrists in the trials reported that the system has already positively affected their interaction with patients, offering a useful objective "window" into the patient's daily routine. One patient who was involved in the clinical trial fo
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert

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