Exploring patients' experiences using digital tools to track and report their mental health symptoms

My Topol fellowship problem / project:

Unlike other areas of medicine, psychiatry often lacks objective tests or biomarkers to track clinical outcomes. Service-users are therefore required to summarise long-term and dynamic changes in their mental health at infrequent assessments with clinicians. However, there is limited opportunity for patients to track their symptoms or contribute to their care plan between clinical assessments.

At South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, a tool has been developed to meet this problem. The tool allows patients to create an account in which they can set personal treatment goals and monitor their symptoms on daily rating scales. Importantly, clinicians can access these results through their clinical records system to aid more accurate and meaningful clinical assessment and care.

My project will explore service-users’ experiences and perspectives of this tool and use patients’ feedback to further optimise it. I hope doing so will lead to the design and inclusion of new features, and increase service-user and clinician engagement with the tool. More generally, I hope to promote discussion around digital mental health among multi-disciplinary colleagues, including the field’s potential future directions and associated ethical challenges.

I’m an Academic Clinical Fellow in Psychiatry, currently working in South London. Clinically, I work as a Core Psychiatry Trainee in an inpatient unit for adult service-users. My research interest is in precision psychiatry and the use of digital technologies to more accurately phenotype mental health disorders. I’ve led projects related to mobile phone communications, sleep monitoring and the prediction of patients’ responses to antidepressant medication.

Alongside clinical and academic medicine I have a keen interest in public engagement. I have written for a number of media publications on topics related to healthcare and am a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Public Engagement Editorial Board.