John Torous, M.D.
Director of the Digital Psychiatry Division, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Boston, Massecuites, USA
Where is your clinic / research institution located?
The Division of Digital Psychiatry is located in the department of Psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massecuites, United States of America.
What patient populations do you serve? How many per year?
We serve patients with serious mental illness like schizoprehnia, bipolar, and major depressive disorder. We conduct numerous research studies and also offer a clinic where innovtive tehcnologies are used to augment care.
What VR rehab system(s) do you have installed?
Our group uses a mhealth plaform, mindLAMP , that we have developed and are share freely and openly: https://www.digitalpsych.org/lamp/about. mindLAMP offers the ability to capture multimodal data via ecological momentary assessments, digital phenotyping, cognitive assessments, and wearable sensor integration. The platform is also able to support brief app-based interventions that can be customized based on the research or clinical need. For use in care settings, we offer a care portal where patients can interact with their team, family members, and supporters in order to use their data towards recovery and wellness.
What benefits do you gain from using this VR rehab system?
Flexibility to customize the platform to the needs of patients, ability to rapidly update the platform based on user feedback, and the opporunity to transparently share the entire platofrm are the key benefits we derive from mindLAMP. Tehcnology for health is constantly updating, and being able to ensure our platforms grows with the field is critical. Patient privacy and data security is most important to us and being able to deploy our platform at local sites in a safe and secure manner has enabled us to reach sites in Africa, Europe, China, India, Canada, and many in the United States.
What problems did/do you have with using these systems?
Working at the interface of health, software development, and privacy is never simple. We are constanly working with partners using the platform to ensure it continues to run well and meet both local and global needs. With updates to Apple and Android software, we must be prepared to rapidly test and make changes so that everything continues to run smoothly. In creating a consortium of sites and patners using the platform around the world, we have also worked to balance diverse needs and use cases.
Are you involved in clinical research using VR rehab systems? If so, please describe briefly.
We are currently invesitgating how we can use the system to offer early warning signs of relapse in different conditions such as schizoprehnia as well as opioid use disoder. Given the multimodal data we can collect, we use machine learning techniques to find patterns that may offer a signal that someone is at higher risk and will benefit from early intervention.
What do you see as the most important challenge for VR rehab research and development?
Using mhealth tools like mindLAMP, it is increasingly possible to capture large amounts of interesting data about health. The challenge now is transforming that data into clinically actionable inights that will benefit care. Understanding and testing new innovations in real world care settings is important for ensuring results are generalizbale and actually applicable outside of the clinical research environment.
(Article from the ISVR Newsletter Issue 17)