Patrick Hemming, MD: Which Mental Health App is Best for Internal Medicine Patients?

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This segment of Hemming’s ACP interview featured a discussion of a website used to assess digital applications for patients struggling with mental health issues.

In this interview discussion, Patrick Hemming, MD, discussed some of the additional takeaways from his American College of Physicians (ACP) Internal Medicine Meeting presentation ‘Depression and Anxiety Treatment by the Internal Medicine Physician,’ touching on a useful website for internists.

Hemming works as an associate professor and as director of resident education for the Duke Outpatient Clinic at Duke University’s department of medicine. In his prior interview segments, Hemming had detailed utilizing the Mental Health Care Model (MHCM) for internal medicine patients with depression.

In this segment, Hemming was specifically asked about the website MindApps.org and its use for internists looking to help direct patients to mental health-related smartphone applications.

“People are always interested in new technology in every part of medicine,” he explained. “I got some help from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center here in Boston, as they have a division of digital psychiatry and Dr. John Torous met with me to go over some of these things. They study this and have developed a really nice online resource…It's a non-industry supported clearinghouse and a search mechanism for people who are looking for app-based health particularly in the mental health sphere.”

Hemming explained that this website may help patients to determine which app could work best for them, given the wide variety of potential apps designed for mental health needs.

“There are over 10,000 apps that do mental health stuff, so there's no shortage of things that are marketing themselves,” Hemming said. “But this website actually evaluates them for things like the cost, the interface, how usable it is, and the privacy settings. So if you're sharing sensitive stuff about yourself with a company, how is that being used? Things like that.”

Hemming noted that most individuals do not continue to use apps longterm, with many downloading them, using them a couple of times, and often forgetting about them.

“As patients ask us about this, my approach is, essentially, that there are some things that we don't have the time to teach patients or coach them through,” he said. “Things like deep breathing exercises, things like mindfulness or meditation, things like setting up new habits. The vast majority of these mental health apps do that and at least 40 or 50% of them are free.”

To learn more about the contents of Hemming’s interview, view the full segment posted above. The website referenced by Hemming is https://mindapps.org/Apps.

The quotes contained in this summary were edited for the purposes of clarity. Hemming has no relationships with entities whose primary business is marketing, selling, producing, re-selling, or distributing healthcare products used by or on patients.

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