The practice of behavioral healthcare is being transformed by technological innovations in mobile health and a growing understanding of the role patient behavior, behavioral health conditions, and dual physical/behavioral health diagnoses play in health outcomes and costs.  This transformation has in turn given rise to a profusion of fascinating and increasingly actionable research on the intersection of medicine, behavior, and innovative information technology. In the quest to improve patient outcomes and contain health costs, experts across varied disciplines in behavioral science and technology are busy producing evidence on the most effective uses of mobile health (mHealth) and web-based tools.

Behavioral Healthcare and Technology: Using Science-Based Innovations to Transform Practice provides an up-to-the-moment snapshot of the current state of peer-reviewed research regarding new mobile health and web-based tools for behavioral assessment, intervention, decision support, and patient support and education.

Assembled in a rigorously systematic manner and offering an abundance of accessible information, this excellent new book takes a broad view of web-based and mobile health (mHealth) tools for monitoring and responding to individuals’ health behavior to improve mental health care, substance abuse treatment, medication adherence, chronic disease self-management, and diet and exercise.  More specifically, Behavioral Healthcare and Technology:

  • Describes the state of scientific research in the development, evaluation, and implementation of technology-based tools in assessing and treating behavioral health issues and supporting healthy behaviors.
  • Assesses what is known from the scientific research and identifies the gaps in our understanding of how to best harness technology to provide evidence-based behavioral health care.
  • Covers the full spectrum of topics related to technology-based behavioral health, including development and testing of mobile health tools; implementation, regulatory, policy, and systems level considerations; and the future of the technology-based approach to monitoring and supporting positive health behavior, both within and outside of formal systems of care.
  • Well serves a diverse audience of readers, including clinicians, mental health and substance abuse program administrators, researchers, behavioral health organizations, mobile health innovators, wellness programs, chronic care managers, state Medicaid leaders, Medicaid health plans, federal Medicare staff, and Medicare Advantage plans.

The book is divided into five sections, with each section consisting of several complementary chapters written by top experts:

1. Optimal Models for Developing Technology-Based Therapeutic Tools

Behavioral Healthcare and Technology begins with an exploration of the interdependence that exists between technology-based interventions and theories of behavior change. While theory is obviously a necessary basis for developing interventions, the analysis provided by technological tools yields new information through which the theories themselves can be refined.

2. Evidence-Based Approaches to Harnessing Technology

This section is the longest one, consisting of eight chapters that span a broad descriptive arc of technological interventions and assessments. Every reader is likely to find something fascinating here, as the voices of different researchers describe a range of stunningly advanced technologies. Wearable devices use sensors to monitor and transmit physiological data, mobile smartphones are transformed into self-management tools for patients with mental illness, and virtual avatars are explored as a way of providing emotional support and personal health coaching. This is only a taste of the innovations presented here, and this compelling overview will bring new insight to every reader.

3. Evaluating Technology-Based Behavioral Healthcare

Following a logical progression, the book’s third section delves into the challenge of measuring and evaluating these emerging technological approaches. The four chapters in this section variously examine research design, methods of identifying behavior change, and economic analyses in today’s healthcare delivery environment.

4. Effective Implementation and Dissemination

In the fourth section, the chapters examine implementation research and the way in which it can shed light on various barriers to adoption. Writers examine privacy and security issues and go on to discuss ways in which mobile health innovations can increase global access to healthcare across all economic levels.

5. Public Health and Policy Implications

The book’s final section completes the narrative arc in a satisfying way, detailing the real-world potential for change offered by technology-based therapies. One chapter details the ways in which new technologies may be able to overcome existing disparities in access to healthcare. Another opens up a conversation about the integration of emerging intervention and assessment tools with healthcare policy development. Finally, Behavioral Healthcare and Technology explores a visionary future in which disciplinary boundaries are dissolved and the promise of harnessing technology gives rise to a true transformation in behavioral healthcare delivery.

“Kudos to Marsch, Lord, and Dallery for a thoughtful interdisciplinary collection that bridges the disconnect between theoretical and practical aspects of technology use to improve behaviors related to critical health issues in the US and globally. From wearable sensors to virtual avatars to simple text messages, each chapter in this volume sheds important light on the individual and combined considerations of behavioral models, standards, econometrics, equity, big data, statistical modeling, and policy – providing a bold vision for scaling technology-enabled behavioral interventions that is informed by science.” Patricia Mechael, PhD, MHS, Professor, Columbia University, New York, and Senior Advisor on mHealth, United Nations Foundation

About the Editors

The three researchers who assembled this rich compendium of research and ideas are themselves deeply engaged in examining technological solutions to challenges to treating behavioral health conditions and supporting healthy patient behavior:

  • Lisa A. Marsch, PhD is the Director of the Center for Technology and Behavioral Health (CTBH) at Dartmouth College. She is also Director of the Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center, and she has led research into the development of technological interventions targeting substance abuse treatment.
  • Sarah E. Lord, PhD is Director of the Dissemination and Implementation Core at the Dartmouth Center for Technology and Behavioral Health. Her professional work has included community work in developing strategies for sustainable, technology-driven behavioral health initiatives.
  • Jesse Dallery, PhD is Director of the Scientific Core at the Center for Technology and Behavioral Health and Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Florida. He has conducted research in quantitative decision-making models in nicotine use, and his background in pharmacology has informed his exploration of internet-based interventions in smoking behavior.

With an outstanding, interdisciplinary team of leaders in behavioral science and technology, Dartmouth’s Center for Technology and Behavioral Health (CTBH) “aims to draw on the dynamic synergy between innovation, rigorous evaluation, and strategic dissemination to lead transformations in delivery of evidence-based behavioral health care using technology.”  Learn more at www.c4tbh.org and follow them on Twitter @DartmouthCTBH.

Behavioral Healthcare and Technology: Using Science-Based Innovations to Transform Practice is an excellent contribution to today’s conversation about the interplay between emerging technologies, economic pressures, and the challenges of treating behavioral health issues.  This comprehensive, detailed anthology will bring a fresh perspective to readers from every sector: policy-making, academic, clinical, and administrative.

Behavioral Healthcare and Technology: Using Science-Based Innovations to Transform Practice, edited by Drs. Lisa Marsch, Sarah Lord,  and Jesse Dallery, is published by Oxford University Press and available through Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers (ISBN-13: 978-0199314027).