Introduction: Innovations to Improve Mental Health Outcomes

December 25, 2017
John Luo, MD

Volume 34, Issue 12

How is technology affecting psychiatric practice and addressing barriers in the clinical care of our patients?

It’s been 15 years since I wrote my first article for Psychiatric Times in 2002, highlighting how technology will affect psychiatric practice. I’ve been fortunate to have written several articles for Psychiatric Times since then regarding technology and its potential impact on our field. I think it has come full circle now that I am the chair of this Technology Special Report, with contributions from wonderful authors. I believe it reflects the ease of use and the fertile ground for innovation that have made technology the next domain for delivery, access, and improvement of psychiatric care.

The authors in this Special Report illustrate that the technology itself is no longer a barrier toward adoption, and many creative people have found ways to incorporate technology to address a variety of barriers in the clinical care of our patients. Medical informatics has come a long way from a hobby or interest to now being a clinical subspecialty. While there is certainly a need for those who have received their PhD in biomedical informatics or a master’s degree in health informatics to lead our field in academic, industry, or government positions, it is my hope that more psychiatrists will join me in pursuing fellowship training in clinical informatics. This training provides us with the credibility and credentials to innovate with new mediums of social media and smartphones as well as to serve as leaders in the health care enterprise.

I am certain that you will find the articles in this Special Report of great interest. Smartphones are ubiquitous nowadays, and using apps or sensors on the phone will certainly extend the care of the patient in many ways. Telepsychiatry has been tremendous in eliminating the barriers of access to care, especially in populations where the stigma of mental illness prevents patients from going to a mental health clinic. Incubation of innovative technologies in psychiatric care is critical so that great ideas become products we can use to take better care of our patients. Join me in reading this Technology Special Report-I’m sure you will be inspired!