Enhancing Psychiatric Treatment with Innovative Mental Health Apps

From left: Karen Fasciano, David Ahern and Ash Nadkarni participate in a panel discussion about innovation in behavioral health.

Amazon Echo invention brings treatment to psychiatry patients

Ash Nadkarni, MD, an associate psychiatrist in the Department of Psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), designs and studies innovation that facilitates the integration of psychiatry into other medical specialties.  

Dr. Nadkarni cares for patients at the Crohn’s and Colitis Center at BWH who cope with depression, anxiety and other mood disorders related to their gastrointestinal disease. She is currently developing an app for Amazon Echo that delivers Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) to these patients.

“Their condition makes it difficult to come to Boston for frequent therapy appointments. The Amazon Echo app, on the other hand, can bring treatment to them,” says Dr. Nadkarni, who previously launched, obtained venture funding for and facilitated the acquisition of a mobile health startup.

A mobile app to support psychiatric treatment for cancer patients      

Karen Fasciano, PsyD, has created a body of innovative clinical interventions for young adults coping with cancer, including an interactive educational website for young adult patients at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.

Working with the Brigham Digital Innovation Hub (iHub), Dr. Fasciano is currently developing a mobile app to help ease the emotional distress of many young adult patients coping with cancer. The app will provide:

  • Resources on coping skills
  • Ways for patients to share their story via social networking
  • A platform for peer support

“Technology can be used by patients independently, but also in the context of clinical care,” says Dr. Fasciano. “For example, we facilitate Twitter chats to help young patients tweet about emotional coping. I review these tweets in my clinical sessions to stimulate conversation and reinforce skills that peers find helpful – thus integrating peer connection and skill-based learning.”

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