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Med Devices (Auckl). 2017 Oct 4;10:237-251. doi: 10.2147/MDER.S144158. eCollection 2017.

Digital health technology for use in patients with serious mental illness: a systematic review of the literature.

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Department of Psychiatry, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway.
Global Medical Affairs, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development and Commercialization Inc., Princeton, NJ.
Medical Affairs, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development and Commercialization Inc., Rockville, MD.
Health Economics and Outcomes Management.
Global Clinical Development, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development and Commercialization Inc., Princeton, NJ, USA.



As the capabilities and reach of technology have expanded, there is an accompanying proliferation of digital technologies developed for use in the care of patients with mental illness. The objective of this review was to systematically search published literature to identify currently available health technologies and their intended uses for patients with serious mental illness.


The Medline, Embase, and BIOSIS Previews electronic databases were searched to identify peer-reviewed English language articles that reported the use of digital, mobile, and other advanced technology in patients with schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. Eligible studies were systematically reviewed based on Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines.


Eighteen studies that met the inclusion criteria were identified. Digital health technologies (DHTs) assessed in the selected studies included mobile applications (apps), digital medicine, digital personal health records, and an electronic pill container. Smartphone apps accounted for the largest share of DHTs. The intended uses of DHTs could be broadly classified as monitoring to gain a better understanding of illness, clinical assessment, and intervention. Overall, studies indicated high usability/feasibility and efficacy/effectiveness, with several reporting validity against established clinical scales. Users were generally engaged with the DHT, and mobile assessments were deemed helpful in monitoring disease symptoms.


Rapidly proliferating digital technologies seem to be feasible for short-term use in patients with serious mental illness; nevertheless, long-term effectiveness data from naturalistic studies will help demonstrate their usefulness and facilitate their adoption and integration into the mental health-care system.


digital medicine; health technology; mHealth; serious mental illness; smartphone applications

Conflict of interest statement

Disclosure SB is a pharmaceutical medicine fellow at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. RAB, TW, FF, FD, and TPS are employees of Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development and Commercialization Inc. The authors report no other conflict of interest in this work.

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