Mclean Hospital

McLean Institute for Technology in Psychiatry

Supporting Mental Health in the Digital Age

The McLean Institute for Technology in Psychiatry (ITP) was founded in 2016 to advance psychiatric research and practice through innovations in digital health technology and informatics.

To accomplish these goals, we work with global leaders in academia, industry, and healthcare to:

  • Innovate new technology-based methods for diagnosing, monitoring, and treating psychiatric disorders
  • Support technology-based solutions in research and clinical care
  • Optimize new and existing technology to meet the needs of clinicians, patients, and the scientific community

The ITP also hosts the annual Technology in Psychiatry Summit. Join us to help build a more accessible future.
 

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Improving Care Through Research

As a freestanding psychiatric hospital and the largest psychiatric affiliate of Harvard Medical School, McLean Hospital provides a unique environment for optimizing treatments and providing support for a wide range of patient-centered research initiatives. ITP brings together the leading minds in technology, science, and clinical care with a shared vision of using technology to improve mental health.

Together with partners in academia and industry, ITP develops new technologies for understanding and treating psychiatric illness such as apps, wearables, web-based games, surveys, and video-based platforms. It is the ITP’s mission to incorporate these technologies into research and clinical care to address the most pressing problems in mental health.

ITP Summit
Watch videos from the 2017
Technology in Psychiatry Summit

In addition to providing leadership in technology development and mental health, ITP offers comprehensive support for navigating the challenges of responsible and ethical discovery. We help organizations and investigators:

  • Conduct clinical trials and clinical research studies that integrate digital phenotypes and/or technology-based patient engagement strategies
  • Identify the best software and hardware tools for collecting behavioral and physiological data
  • Define best practices for digital phenotype collection across clinical, laboratory, and external settings (i.e., “in the wild”)
  • Develop streamlined IRB and clinical trials agreements with standardized language for digital protocols to enable more efficient delivery of information and services to cooperating agents/entities and regulatory bodies
  • Validate new digital health technologies to diagnose and treat mental disorders, as well as monitor variations in psychological and brain functioning that are associated with health and disease
  • Educate individuals and organizations interested in technology-based mental health interventions and deep phenotyping

If you are interested in learning more about the McLean Institute for Technology in Psychiatry, please contact us.

Project Spotlight

Below are some examples of current projects taking place at or in collaboration with the McLean Institute for Technology in Psychiatry (ITP). In each project, the goal is to improve our ability to understand or improve mental health and create systems that meet patients where they are through personalized, digital solutions that can be made widely available.

Smartphone-Based Treatment Interventions

Beiwe is the world’s first fully encrypted smartphone platform for continuous monitoring of patients with severe mental illness coupled to world-class machine classifiers. The goal of Beiwe is to build a clinical warning system capable of detecting and adapting to complex changes in behavior, while they are happening or even before. This will enable clinicians to help identify and support patients during the times when they need it most.

Lead investigators: JP Onnela, Justin T. Baker, MD, PhD

Cognitive Assessment in the Wild

TestMyBrain is a web-based cognitive assessment platform that takes advantage of the strong public interest in the mind and brain as an engine for scientific advancement. Since 2008, the TestMyBrain project has tested almost 2 million people across over 50 web-based tasks specifically designed to engage the interest of research participants and provide high-quality research data. Recently, the NIMH has contracted with McLean Hospital and McLean personnel associated with the TestMyBrain project to develop recommendations for an RDoC field test battery that can be used to measure clinically relevant dimensions of behavior in a field test setting, outside of the traditional laboratory or clinic. The investigators are humbled to have this opportunity to collaborate with experts in clinical and basic sciences to develop reliable and valid measures of these fundamental components of mental health disorders.

Lead investigator: Laura Germine, PhD

Digital Phenotyping in Mental Illness

The Emerald sensor uses wireless radio signals to determine the location and motion of a person in their living environment, thus collecting a complex data analysis of a patient. As a passive, wall-mounted sensor, Emerald does not require patients to change their behavior or interact with wearable technologies. The goal is to be able to use this technology to help seniors with mental health conditions by providing clinicians with day-to-day information about how people live in their environment.

Lead investigators: Ipsit Vahia, MD, Dina Katabi, PhD

Read more about this study

The Last Mile Problem in Psychiatry

The MultiSense project uses video to capture naturalistic face-to-face clinical interviews. We then use these videos in combination with machine learning to improve the efficiency and robustness of mental health assessments through automatic sensing. The goal of the MultiSense project is to improve patient care and enable high-throughput behavioral characterizations for conventional clinical trials.

Lead investigators: Justin T. Baker, MD, PhD, Elizabeth Liebson, MD, Joseph Stoklosa, MD, Louis-Philippe Morency

Read more about this study

Leadership

Justin T. Baker, MD, PhDJustin T. Baker, MD, PhD, Scientific Director

Dr. Baker is also the director of Functional Neuroimaging and Bioinformatics for the Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Research Program at McLean Hospital. His research uses both large scale studies and deep phenotyping approaches to understand the nature and underlying biology of mental illnesses, particularly lifelong conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.


Laura Germine, PhDLaura Germine, PhD, Technical Director

Dr. Germine is also the director of the Laboratory for Brain and Cognitive Health Technology at McLean Hospital and founder of TestMyBrain.org. Her research is oriented around understanding the relationship between cognitive health and psychopathology, aided by the development of web-based tools for measuring cognition that are accessible, scalable, and meet the goals and needs of patients.


Ipsit Vahia, MDIpsit Vahia, MD, Medical Director

Dr. Vahia is also the medical director of McLean’s Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Services. His research focuses on the use of technology and informatics in the assessment and management of older adults.

McLean ITP Consortium

The ITP recognizes that we are in an era where technology development and scientific discovery often outpace traditional bench-to-bedside translation and knowledge dissemination. To accelerate the rate that discoveries and innovations can be translated to patient care, we are currently inviting like-minded partners to join the McLean ITP Consortium. In addition to gaining access to the services described above, consortium partners will also have early access to select datasets and beta technologies developed through the ITP.

The time is right for significant investment in technology-driven solutions in mental health and establishment of standards that can be used in research and clinical practice globally. We hope you will join us, as we develop technology-driven solutions to improve the mental health of people all over the world.

To learn more about the ITP or to initiate conversations about working with us on projects or collaborations, please contact us.