Veterans open to using health IT for mental healthcare

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Veterans being treated for mental health issues show interest in using technology to receive care, with a few caveats, according to research published at Telemedicine and e-Health.

Seventy-four patients at a Boston VA outpatient clinic completed a pencil-and-paper survey on their interest in using computers, cellphones and tablets for their mental healthcare. These patients were being treated for conditions such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety disorders.

Overall, 86 percent of the patients had access to an Internet-capable device and 97 percent reported having a cellphone, though fewer than half reported owning a smartphone. In addition, only nine patients had a tablet and noted they had little interest in health-related communications using the device.

Younger patients were more open to technology-based communications, and most preferred using a desktop or laptop, especially when privacy was a concern or when a small screen might pose a limitation.

Using computers, patients were interested in receiving laboratory results (68 percent), reporting symptoms to providers (63 percent) and having providers inquire about how they were doing (61 percent). Nearly half were interested in a live video session with their provider or a video that summarized a therapy session.

For cellphones, a little over half were most interested in receiving appointment reminders and medication refill reminders, but they showed little interest in video-related uses.

There was little interest overall in reminders to take medication, though previous research has shown that such reminders can improve medication adherence.

Researchers from the VA Connecticut Health Care System in West Haven, Connecticut, recently found interest in using computerized psychotherapies among veterans participating in outpatient substance use treatment.

To learn more:
- read the abstract

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