People say that no one knows you better than yourself. However, this isn’t always true. Are you truly aware of how healthy your organs are? Do you know what your mental health is like? You might have a rough idea of their states and how well you are overall. However, that’s all there is to it: a rough idea. You don’t honestly know what state your body is in without the help of technology. In fact, we dare say that your smartphone is more aware of your health than you are.
That being said, when it comes to mental illness, understanding one’s mental health by themselves can be next to impossible. Only through technology is this possible, and pairing this with a watchful eye of a clinician, one’s mental health can truly be understood.
That headline might sound like a big claim to make, but hear us out. Imagine a dashboard a clinician has under their fingertips that shows the fluctuations of your brain function, behavior, and more, paired with machine learning to quickly detect mental illness patterns and trends to propose a treatment. While this might sound like a solution from the future, it has already been thought of and is under development. Called “Digital Phenotyping,” this area and focus has resulted from industries and academic institutions collaborating to develop a solution to identify and treat mental illness swiftly.
While the evolution of such projects is still ongoing, two factors have helped speed the development of digital phenotyping since 2016. First, we already have the technology to process data from our daily actions, behaviors, brain functions, and other vitals locally, on-device. Can you guess what device it is?
It’s your smartphone! Many of us live our lives on our smartphones, which makes our daily use of the smartphone an excellent way for clinicians to collect data about a person’s mental state based on various factors such as typing speed, response times, and more. Of course, other devices such as smartwatches also exist that already help monitor different functions of the body. They, too, can be used in conjunction with smartphones to provide even more data about a person’s physiology.
The second reason development of digital phenotyping is rapidly exploding is thanks to machine learning. Machine learning has allowed many individuals and entities to process an extensive amount of data and quickly understand it in a short period of time. In Active Digital Phenotyping, scientists can use machine learning to understand a person’s cognitive situation from a remote location, alerting clinicians to any red flags that the machine detects to be an issue in real-time.
While the technology to fully support and make digital phenotyping reliable is ongoing, the future holds plenty of optimistic promises. Technology such as mobile devices down to machine learning is always getting better, more efficient, and more powerful. Soon, we’ll have what we need to help us monitor our mental state and the state of our entire body, all from the convenience of small devices like smartwatches, mobile phones, or microchips. For the health industry, this technology means they can now understand their patient’s conditions quicker than ever before while preserving their patients’ highest levels of privacy and independence. Thanks to digital phenotyping, physicians, doctors, and clinicians can quickly understand one’s mental health state and offer proper treatment whenever issues arise!