Viewpoint: Introducing technology specialists into clinical care will enable more effective mental health treatment

If a new technology specialist position is incorporated into mental health services, not only might patients gain a greater sense of control over their health, but clinical processes could be made more efficient with the introduction of data-driven technology tools, researchers suggested in a commentary article published June 26 in npj Digital Medicine.

The authors, from Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., Harvard Medical School in Boston and Lebanon, N.H.-based research firm Westat, wrote that having technology specialists on clinical teams could encourage the use of digital apps and tools in mental health treatment, thus promoting self-management and, perhaps, improvement of symptoms.

"Mental health systems could benefit from someone to help identify technology-based supports that reflect current evidence and minimize privacy and security concerns," they wrote. "The technology specialist may enhance the therapeutic bond between the client and the clinician by framing the interactions on identifying an area of recovery, planning and monitoring progress, thereby creating a structured course for therapy with a clearly defined end goal."

With patients empowered to manage their own mental health and clinicians able to practice more effectively, they concluded, the introduction of a technology specialist "enhances a recovery-oriented mental health care system" and "may facilitate systemic changes that align with the ever-changing landscape of health technology."

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