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Digital Clinics and Mobile Technology Implementation for Mental Health Care.

Connolly SL, Kuhn E, Possemato K, Torous J. Digital Clinics and Mobile Technology Implementation for Mental Health Care. Current psychiatry reports. 2021 May 7; 23(7):38.

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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Interest in digital mental health, especially smartphone apps, has expanded in light of limited access to mental health services and the need for remote care during COVID-19. Digital clinics, in which apps are blended into routine care, offer a potential solution to common implementation challenges including low user engagement and lack of clinical integration of apps. RECENT FINDINGS: While the number of mental health apps available in commercial marketplaces continues to rise, there are few examples of successful implementation of these apps into care settings. We review one example of a digital clinic created within an academic medical center and another within the Department of Veterans Affairs. We then discuss how implementation science can inform new efforts to effectively integrate mental health technologies across diverse use cases. Integrating mental health apps into care settings is feasible but requires careful attention to multiple domains that will influence implementation success, including characteristics of the innovation (e.g., utility and complexity of the app), the recipients of the technology (e.g., patients and clinicians), and context (e.g., healthcare system buy-in, reimbursement, and regulatory policies). Examples of effective facilitation strategies that can be utilized to improve implementation efforts include co-production of technology involving all end users, specialized trainings for staff and patients, creation of new team members to aid in app usage (e.g., digital navigators), and re-design of clinical workflows.

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