TECHNOLOGY AND PSYCHIATRY
With the rising interest in mobile and connected technologies, this is an exciting time to serve as the 2016 Digital Psychiatry Section Editor for Psychiatric Times. This promises to be a busy year as the roles of new digital tools converge to offer novel opportunities for clinical care. The focus will be on trust and data security, as well as efficacy and clinical outcomes data, as digital psychiatry matures from theoretical potential toward clinical reality. A foundation of trust and an evidence base with real data will be key areas for the field going forward.
Privacy and transparency
We already know how much information we can collect from smartphone apps and sensor technologies as well as how much of it can be stored. But will patients trust technology enough to share their mental health concerns?
To begin to address this problem, we can expect to see efforts on 2 fronts. First, connected technologies are beginning to better encrypt data and increase data security measures. But a focus on data security alone is not enough. A parallel theme will emerge toward greater transparency in how health data are collected, stored, and used. In fact, a failure to focus on trust can undermine an entire technology platform. In October 2015, the entire UK National Health Service App Library was taken offline after it was discovered that many of the featured apps were not secure and leaked patient data.3
Dr Torous is a Clinical Fellow in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Senior Resident at the Harvard Longwood Psychiatry Residency Training Program in Boston. Twitter: @JohnTorousMD. The author reports no conflicts of interest concerning the subject matter of this article.
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2. Sunyaev A, Dehling T, Taylor PL, Mandl KD. Availability and quality of mobile health app privacy policies. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2015;22:e28-e33.
3. Marley J, Farooq S. Mobile telephone apps in mental health practice: uses, opportunities and challenges. B J Psych Bull. 2015;39:288-290. http://pb.rcpsych.org/content/39/6/288.e-letters. Accessed January 22, 2016.
4. Firth J, Torous J. Smartphone apps for schizophrenia: a systematic review. JMIR mHealth uHealth. 2015;3:e102. http://mhealth.jmir.org/2015/4/e102/. Accessed January 22, 2016.
5. Torous J, Powell AC. Current research and trends in the use of smartphone applications for mood disorders. Internet Interv. 2015;2:169-173.