The incredible shrinking computers have invaded!
Computers are everywhere, and we use them without even thinking about it. I bought a new smart phone recently, and it came in three sizes, small, medium and large. Microchip technology has come into play in physical health care. Tablet computers are everywhere. I shudder to think how many small computers are in a new car, appliances, even alarm clocks. But where’s the value in Mental Health and Addictions Treatment?
Is smaller really better?
Let’s go back to that smart phone. Professionals can receive automated Emails on their smart phone from their Electronic Health Record (EHR) telling them to log into their system to find out which patient needs help NOW. In a world where a consumer with a problem can wait weeks instead of hours for an appointment with a mental health professional, the value of this sort of instant attention-grabber is obvious. You can get that on the small model smart phone, and for that purpose, smaller is better.
I manage my calendar on my smart phone. For a professional who wants to do the same, the EHR can send a calendar event that’s been scrubbed clean of patient information; this integrates the updated professional staff scheduling information on the smart phone with the EHR. The calendar works for me on my medium size phone, but I wouldn’t want to try this on a smaller phone with my clumsy fingers.
I read a lot. I use Kindle software on the medium size phone and it’s OK, not fabulous. I take a lot of photos and they display OK, but quite tiny. This feature functionality would be better on the large sized phone (which doesn’t fit in my pocket well) or fantastic on a tablet computer (which feels like lugging too much around and could get “lost” on the New York subway).
I recently accessed a customer’s EHR on my medium size phone to sign a document…it worked, but not very well. For running an EHR in the field, I wouldn’t want anything smaller than the mini-tablet.
The coolest small thing to come down the pike in the past decade or so is the advances in microchip nanotechnology, and I recently received an article discussing how this marvel can help diagnose Type-1 diabetes. What if mental health and addictions could use the same technology?
Misdiagnosis of schizophrenia as something like Asperger’s Syndrome or depression or bipolar disorder, while probably not common, does happen…what if nanotechnology could be employed to validate diagnosis? We already know that chemical changes in the brain accompany disorders like schizophrenia; a device for use in the field to test blood or saliva that provides proof of diagnosis could help professionals deliver better care to consumers.
There are a number of smart phone apps available to monitor moods and activities, and these are promoting the use of smaller devices to accomplish a mental health goal. This technology is currently in play, so what can we expect in the future? Perhaps we’ll see a watch that monitors chemicals in our sweat and triggers an alarm when moods or physical cues indicate the onset of certain behaviors.
Every so often we see a new “cure” for addiction surface. How about using nanotechnology to silence DARPP-32, the brain protein that facilitates addictive behaviors. It’s being discussed and could hapen
The point of using technology like this and the EHR in mental health and addictions is to deliver improved diagnosis, treatment, documentation and outcomes to treatment, and all this technology is getting smaller and more portable.