PBI Network Presents: Integrating Mobile Apps into Care

graphic with 6 icons for mobile apps listed below
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By DHCC Practice Based Implementation Network Team
August 7, 2017

There is promising evidence that technology can support the use of evidence-based behavioral health treatments, as well as serve as a link to improve patient engagement and adherence to treatment. Yet clinicians have limited guidance on how to effectively and safely implement these resources, especially mobile applications (apps). The National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2) conducted a recent survey to better understand some of the barriers military providers encounter when incorporating technology for psychological health. Results showed that the most frequently endorsed barriers were:

  • Don’t know how

  • Unclear about policies regarding their use

  • Afraid of potential privacy and security issues

To address these identified barriers and facilitate the use and dissemination of psychological health innovations, the Deployment Health Clinical Center (DHCC) is conducting the Tech into Care Pilot using the implementation approach developed by the DoD/VA Practice Based Implementation (PBI) Network. The need for such an approach is paramount at a time when mobile apps are increasingly promoted as extensions to various evidence-based treatments. Greater understanding of how these mobile apps can best support providers in providing quality, evidence-based care, particularly in military health, will force thoughtful development of these types of technologies and greater relevancy.

The Tech into Care Pilot will focus on the integration of five popular mobile apps developed by T2 and the National Center for PTSD: Breathe2Relax, LifeArmor, PTSD Coach, T2 Mood Tracker, and Virtual Hope Box. Providers in behavioral health clinics at Navy and Air Force PBI Network sites will have the opportunity to participate in the pilot and provide input and feedback regarding the implementation process. As part of the pilot, providers will participate in a two-hour training session on the core competencies of using mobile apps in clinical practice, followed by a three-month period of ongoing facilitation to support providers’ use of mobile apps in clinical practice and address challenges in real-time. Following the training, providers will begin introducing mobile apps to patients when clinically appropriate, e.g., the mobile app is relevant to the patient’s presenting concerns, the mobile app is consistent with treatment approach, or the patient is interested in using an app. Over the course of the pilot, providers will be asked to complete periodic surveys to provide feedback on their experience using the mobile apps with patients.

Results from this pilot will be shared with each of the services and other relevant stakeholders to support further efforts for disseminating training in mobile apps and preparing providers on how to appropriately integrate this technology in treatment. Visit the PBI Network site for more information about the Tech into Care Pilot.

The views expressed in Clinician's Corner blogs are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Psychological Health Center of Excellence or Department of Defense.

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