APP developed to aid people with mental illness

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lawson Health Research Institute has announced an innovative project that uses a smartphone and web application (app) specially developed to help people living with mental illness play a more active role in their recovery process. The Mental Health Engagement Network (MHEN) research project is led by Cheryl Forchuk, a professor in psychiatry and Lawson scientist.

, will assess the effectiveness of the app, called the Lawson SMART (Supportive Mental Assessment Rehabilitation and Treatment) Record.

The tool leverages TELUS health space®, powered by Microsoft® Health Vault® - a secure online consumer health platform, certified by Canada Health Infoway - that allows patients to collect, manage and share their health information.

Four hundred clients managing mood and psychotic disorders have enrolled in the two-year research project. Each participant will receive an iPhone and a Lawson SMART Record. According to Dr. Forchuk, this project represents a new way in which people can be empowered to take charge of their own health and wellness in partnership with their health care providers.

Common recovery strategies for clients with mood and psychotic disorders include self-assessment, goal-setting, medication monitoring and the promotion of client involvement. "Combining recovery approaches with technology has great potential to improve individual outcomes," says Dr. Forchuk. "We predict this will result in better management of their symptoms and recovery, reducing hospitalization and emergency visits."

Clients will work with their case manager to develop a care plan (including a crisis plan) that can be accessed via their iPhone or the web. In addition, clients will receive automatic prompts related to their plan. For example:

• If the plan calls for mood monitoring the client will be prompted and results will immediately be shared with care providers;

• Clients are prompted to input information regarding their medication, such as effectiveness and side effects, and these results are shared with their care providers. As well, reminders for prescription renewal are provided;

• If in a crisis situation, the client can access their crisis plan and receive specific contact information for help, and their support team will be alerted.

Canada Health Infoway, the not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government to invest in electronic health record projects, invested $1.25 million in this initiative.