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A McLean team took home the top prize in the 2017 Partners Connected Health Innovation Challenge for their proposal to translate a highly effective addiction treatment into a platform for mobile phones and other devices.
Led by Cheryl Cronin, MBA, MA, the team consists of clinicians and staff from McLean’s Center of Excellence in Substance Use Disorders, including Fernside, one of McLean’s Signature Addiction Recovery Programs. The highly competitive contest solicited ideas that disrupt health care as usual and garnered submissions from more than 50 Partners HealthCare teams.
The winning app, Integrated Support Now, is a digital adaptation of an evidence-based treatment for people struggling with co-occurring substance use and mood disorders. The treatment, integrated group therapy (IGT), was developed by Center Chief Roger D. Weiss, MD, who is a member of the winning team. The platform will translate IGT to a digital format.
“We were thrilled to win the challenge,” said Cronin. “It will be exciting to see this idea become a reality. We know that IGT works in person and hope that the digital platform will make this treatment accessible to many more people.”
The platform enables patients to monitor their feelings, receive customized virtual coaching, practice relapse prevention skills, learn about their illnesses, and more. The virtual coach will offer suggestions for managing high-risk situations. And through patient feedback, the platform gets “smarter,” so the coaching improves. The goal is to help people better manage their illnesses, preventing relapse, hospitalization, and emergency care.
“We envision it will be used by people who live in places where IGT isn’t available, as well as a complement to in-person treatment,” added Cronin.
The IGT app will be the first of its kind to help individuals with concurrent substance use and mood disorders. According to team member Dawn E. Sugarman, PhD, there are web-based programs in use, but no mobile applications based on integrated treatment for this population. Dr. Sugarman is leading the effort to collect data from potential platform users regarding its applicability.
Judges were impressed that McLean’s idea will help a growing population who struggle with both opioid addiction and mood disorders. The team will receive 200 hours of consulting from the Partners Connected Health Innovation team and 100 hours from Object Frontier Software, a contest sponsor. The team is seeking philanthropic support to move the project forward which, combined with technical and design assistance, will help bring Integrated Support Now from concept to reality. To learn more, please contact Elizabeth Fieux at 617.855.3453.
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