February 26, 2019

U-M Precision Health use case to focus on mobile technology and mental health

Precision Health at the University of Michigan is announced it is funding a new use case focused on the effects of wearable and mobile technology on mental health outcomes. 

The project, “Enhancing Mental Health Care through Mobile Technology,” is the second use case funded by Precision Health (PH). Lead investigators Amy Bohnert, PhD, and Srijan Sen, MD, PhD from Michigan Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry, think this project has the potential to position U-M as the leader in precision mental health.

The overall goal of this project is to reduce the burden of depression by two means: first, by increasing capacity in the mental health care system through expanding use of mobile technology–delivered interventions, and second, by accelerating recovery from mental illness by better matching pharmacological, psychological, and mobile-based treatments to patients. Researchers will use machine learning to identify key predictors of treatment response from mobile technology, genomic, and environmental data collected from patients.

“This investment allows us to study mental health treatment from before a patient’s first appointment through his or her recovery. We’ll gain a unique perspective by combining objective information from new mobile technology with genetic data and what patients tell us about their experiences,” says Bohnert.

Depression, sleep disorders, addiction, and anxiety are leading and growing causes of disability, productivity loss, and premature mortality globally. The number of behavioral health clinicians available to provide traditional face-to-face care, however, is woefully inadequate to meet the growing need. Further, a substantial proportion of patients who receive traditional care do not get better. With inadequate evidence to meaningfully guide treatment decisions and few objective measures of mental health symptoms available, choice of treatment is often based on clinician preference and simple heuristics. Mobile technology has the potential to address the dual problems of limited clinical capacity and inadequate and untimely data, to both track and intervene in depressive symptoms in powerful ways not previously possible.

“With the burden of mental health problems increasing, our current health care system does not have the capacity to treat everyone who needs help,” says Sen. “Precision health through mobile technology and genomics holds tremendous potential to dramatically increase our ability to help people in a timely manner and match the right treatment to the right patient.”

This collaborative project will draw on the expertise of researchers and schools across campus, including the College of Engineering, LSA, College of Pharmacy, and School of Public Health. Partner organizations on the project include Michigan Medicine Outpatient Psychiatry (for recruitment of community members), and University Health Service (for recruitment of students).

Collaborators on this use case include Emily Mower Provost, PhD, and Jenna Weins, PhD, from the College of Engineering; Daniel Forger, PhD, and Ambuj Tewari, PhD, from LSA; Vicki Ellingrod, PharmD, FCCP, and Corey Lester, PharmD, PhD, from the College of Pharmacy; and Daniel Eisenberg, PhD, and Zhenke Wu, PhD, from the School of Public Health.

“This pathbreaking use of mobile technologies in combination with genomics to address mental health concerns will help to meet the growing need for treatment,” said Provost Martin A. Philbert. “Cross-campus collaborations like this are critical to the development of new approaches in health care.”

This use case is the second for Precision Health. The first, “Precision Opioid Prescribing,” began in 2017 with Chad Brummett, MD, and Bohnert as co-leads. Since its inception, the project has accomplished several goals to address the opioid epidemic and prevent its spread.


This press release was originally published by Precision Health here: https://precisionhealth.umich.edu/news-events/features/mental-health-use...