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Harnessing Advanced Health Technologies to Drive Mental Health Improvement

NAMHC Concept Clearance


David Chambers, D.Phil.
Chief, Services Research and Clinical Epidemiology Branch
Division of Services and Intervention Research (DSIR)


This initiative aims to support research to test the effectiveness of existing health information technologies (IT) to improve access to and quality of mental health care significantly, and improve the collection and use of actionable mental health information.


Advances in health technologies continue at an exponential rate, drastically altering the way we communicate, seek information, and receive services. As these technologies grow increasingly powerful and mobile, they offer the potential to transform mental health care and enable care providers to assess biological processes, disease states, behaviors, attitudes, and the environment more rapidly and accurately. Advances in sensor technologies, virtual reality, mobile assessment, and gaming represent real opportunities to increase access, engagement, reach, and quality of care significantly.

A November 2010 NIMH workshop co-sponsored by the Agency for Health Research and Quality, "Mental Health & Health IT Research: The Way Forward," assembled experts in mental health interventions and services research together with technologists, providers, consumers, and industry representatives to discuss opportunities to leverage emerging technologies toward improved research and service delivery. Participants identified a number of significant gaps in knowledge, which were cross-walked with ongoing analyses of the relevant NIMH portfolio. This initiative would target studies to close these gaps.

Key topics include:

  • Effectiveness of technology-supported service delivery models that allow for asynchronous assessment, service delivery, and monitoring
  • Effectiveness of mobile technologies (e.g., smart phones, texting services, social media) to increase use of mental health services and adherence to treatments
  • Use of technologies (e.g., tablets, smartphones, sensing devices) to improve data capture, real-time assessment, and prediction of risk and acute service need

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