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Smartphone App Shows Promise in Its Ability to Provide Support for Those with Mental Illness

January 16, 2015 Print

Working in partnership with Wellframe, a Boston-based company that enables health plans and providers to better manage risk and amplify existing support resources, McLean Hospital’s Waverley Place community support program successfully completed an important and promising study to gauge the effectiveness of a new smartphone app as a support model for people with severe mental illness.

“We are delighted that Wellframe worked with us and with Waverley Place members to develop the smart phone application used in this first project,” said Dost Öngür, MD, PhD, chief of the Psychotic Disorders Division at McLean. “Waverley Place members found the ‘app’ to be very useful, and the result has been the development of a wonderful tool to support our members, as they work towards productive lives in the community.”

McLean’s pioneering peer-led community support program, piloted in the study, reframes the treatment of mental illness and aims to assist program members holistically and proactively, rather than simply addressing symptoms as they arise. The program empowers members by not only addressing mental health symptoms with prescribed therapeutics, but also by encouraging physical exercise, supportive relationships, rewarding activities and interaction with a community of peers.

According to Öngür, McLean partnered with Wellframe to deliver the program to Waverley Place members through Wellframe’s Intelligent Care Management Platform, which utilized its care automation engine to deliver the holistic care protocol in an easy to follow “daily health checklist.” Additionally, through Wellframe, Waverley Place members were able to engage on a daily basis and at any time with peer counselors who provided them with emotional support and guidance as needed.

By utilizing Wellframe, McLean was able to augment their program’s care management resources, thereby amplifying the efforts of staff and enhancing the overall impact of the support delivered. The daily interactions facilitated through Wellframe between members and peer counselors also led to a significant increase in program engagement and increased feelings of emotional support in members.

“McLean’s new treatment model addresses a very important problem,” said Trishan Panch, MD, MPH, Wellframe’s chief medical officer. “In the old model, people who suffered from severe and persistent mental illness would lose hope, as they were told this was something that they would simply have to manage for the rest of their lives. McLean’s model reframes the treatment delivered and lets people know that recovery is possible with daily support and a structured care plan that includes physical activity and education. We’re very pleased that Wellframe has the opportunity to deliver this groundbreaking program and to make it more accessible to those that need it.”