Researchers at Texas A&M University have developed a new electronic platform that, when integrated with the capabilities of existing smart and wearable devices, could offer a new way to help patients monitor their mental health.
As described in a recent study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice, the platform is a collection of software programs that can be integrated with smart and wearable devices, such as an Apple watch. The software can gather a range of information about the user, such as face and voice recognition and heart rate trends. Through collecting this data, the software develops a baseline for a “normal state of arousal.” Using this information, the software’s algorithms can start to identify when an individual may be outside their “normal”. Combined with more subjective patient-reported outcomes, researchers may be able to get a more comprehensive picture of a patient’s mental state at any given time.
"The key here is triangulation," said Dr. Farzan Sasangohar, assistant professor in the Wm Michael Barnes '64 Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. "Each of these methods on their own, say facial sentiment analysis, show promise to detect the mental state, albeit with limitations. But when you combine that information with the voice sentiment analysis, as well as physiological indicators of distress, the diagnosis and inference become much more powerful and clearer."
This research comes at a time when smart and wearable devices are changing how people manage their healthcare care. An increasing number of U.S. adults, for example, use wearable smart devices for various reasons, including the management of conditions like diabetes or various heart conditions.
Because mental illness requires more care over the long-term compared to some “physical” illnesses, there is a need to find ways to monitor a patient’s health between visits with a provider. The platform developed by Dr. Sasangohar’s team may help fill that gap while also offering a discreet way for patients to manage their care and avoid the stigma of mental illness.
"Because of the stigmatization that surrounds mental illness, we wanted to build a mental health monitoring device that was very discreet," said Sasangohar. "So, we chose off-the-shelf products, like smartphones, and then build sophisticated applications that operate within these devices to make monitoring mental health discreet."
Source: Science Daily