Digital Health Mental Illness My Papers

Adoption of Digital Health Technologies in the Practice of Behavioral Health

This is the title of a paper published today with co-authors Suepattra May, Caroline Huber, Meaghan Roach, Wade Aubry, Darius Lakdawalla, John Kane, and Felicia Forma. The subtitle is “Qualitative Case Study of Glucose Monitoring Technology“. The abstract is below.

Background: Evaluation of patients with serious mental illness (SMI) relies largely on patient or caregiver self-reported symptoms. New digital technologies are being developed to better quantify the longitudinal symptomology of patients with SMI and facilitate disease management. However, as these new technologies become more widely available, psychiatrists may be uncertain about how to integrate them into daily practice. To better understand how digital tools might be integrated into the treatment of patients with SMI, this study examines a case study of a successful technology adoption by physicians: endocrinologists’ adoption of digital glucometers.

Objective: This study aims to understand the key facilitators of and barriers to clinician and patient adoption of digital glucose monitoring technologies to identify lessons that may be applicable across other chronic diseases, including SMIs.

Methods: We conducted focus groups with practicing endocrinologists from 2 large metropolitan areas using a semistructured discussion guide designed to elicit perspectives of and experiences with technology adoption. The thematic analysis identified barriers to and facilitators of integrating digital glucometers into clinical practice. Participants also provided recommendations for integrating digital health technologies into clinical practice more broadly.

Results: A total of 10 endocrinologists were enrolled: 60% (6/10) male; a mean of 18.4 years in practice (SD 5.6); and 80% (8/10) working in a group practice setting. Participants stated that digital glucometers represented a significant change in the treatment paradigm for diabetes care and facilitated more effective care delivery and patient engagement. Barriers to the adoption of digital glucometers included lack of coverage, provider reimbursement, and data management support, as well as patient heterogeneity. Participant recommendations to increase the use of digital health technologies included expanding reimbursement for clinician time, streamlining data management processes, and customizing the technologies to patient needs.

Conclusions: Digital glucose monitoring technologies have facilitated more effective, individualized care delivery and have improved patient engagement and health outcomes. However, key challenges faced by the endocrinologists included lack of reimbursement for clinician time and nonstandardized data management across devices. Key recommendations that may be relevant for other diseases include improved data analytics to quickly and accurately synthesize data for patient care management, streamlined software, and standardized metrics.

While this research was conducted prior to COVID-19, the findings should prove useful for better understanding some of the potential benefits and obstacles to incorporating digital technology into daily practice.

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