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Can Digital Health Tools Help People with Mental Illness Manage Chronic Conditions?

November 19, 2015
by Heather Landi
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Dartmouth Centers for Health and Aging has partnered with Boston-based digital health startup Wellframe to examine the use of mobile technology to help older adults with serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, self-manage medical conditions and psychiatric symptoms.

The project focuses on middle-aged and older individuals who are at high risk of early mortality due to the combined challenges of having a major psychiatric condition and major health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. The research will be led by Karen Whiteman, M.D., post-doctoral fellow at the Dartmouth Centers for Health and Aging.

Through the research project, Dartmouth's Integrated Illness Management and Recovery (I-IMR) program developed by Stephen Bartels, M.D., and his Dartmouth research group will be delivered through Wellframe's proprietary Intelligent Care Management Platform. I-IMR combines physical and behavioral health self-management training that will be delivered through a daily health checklist, which is sent directly to the participants' mobile phone, according to a release from both organizations.

Study participants will receive reminders about their daily health tasks and can measure their own progress, including medication adherence and physical activity, while also viewing educational content. Through the clinician dashboard, Dartmouth's medical team can view their participants' progress in real-time, and send personalized messages of encouragement or instructions as needed.

"Dartmouth is not only pioneering a new approach to integrated behavioral and physical health, but by utilizing mobile technology, they are also pioneering a new approach to care delivery," Wellframe CEO Jacob Sattelmair said. "Mobile holds the promise to make vital programs like this more accessible to those who need it. We're very excited to have the opportunity to work with Dartmouth to make this a reality."

“We hope to demonstrate that this program using mobile technology can result in improved self-management among individuals with serious psychiatric and physical conditions," said Dr. Bartels, professor and the director of Dartmouth Centers for Health and Aging.

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