Article Abstract

Battling severe mental illnesses with smartphones: how patients’ smartphone data can help improve clinical care

Authors: David Mou


The inability to reliably monitor disease progression is one of psychiatry’s most glaring weaknesses. Unlike our colleagues in other fields, who can, for example, monitor diabetes via patients’ hemoglobin A1c, psychiatrists do not have reliable biomarkers. Furthermore, the ways in which mental illnesses manifest are heterogeneous, the vast majority of the patient data in psychiatry is based on subjective patient self-reporting, and practice variation is significant. The inability to monitor disease progression and detect clinical decompensation is a particularly vexing problem for patients suffering from severe mental illnesses (SMI), who die on average 25 years earlier than the general population (1). Clearly we need a more reliable way to track patients’ clinical progress, which is why there is increasing interest in augmenting care with insights derived from smartphone data.