Our reprinted news this week is remarkable in how it reports an app that can potentially make mental health diagnosing easier for the average practitioner. If the report is correct, this could be the start of something small, yet powerful.
A recent article in MobileHealth News reported that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has published a new decision to start covering preventive screening for depression and alcohol abuse is paving the way for wider use of a mobile app that helps primary care physicians find signs of mental illness that they might otherwise be missing.
CMS said in October that it would pay for annual screenings for both depression and alcohol abuse. The news followed by just a few months the release of a $2.99 iPhone app called Mym3, a screening tool that walks clinicians and consumers through a 27-item questionnaire to look for not only depression but also anxiety, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. It takes three minutes to conduct the screen.
“This one’s unique because it screens for four different disorders at once,” suggests psychiatrist Dr. Steve Daviss, CMIO of the app’s developer, Bethesda, Md.-based M-3 Information.
The Mym3 app involves three components: the consumer-focused depression check screening tool; a Web-based version for physicians called M3 Clinician; and My Mood Monitor, which lets patients track their moods over time and share that information with their doctors.
The screening test assigns a score that, according to the company, “reflects the patient’s overall need for treatment, measures functional impairment, and explores alcohol and substance abuse.” It has proven to be surprisingly accurate. M-3 Information reports that a trial at the University of North Carolina showed that a score of 33 or higher corresponded to a 90 percent likelihood a patient had a diagnosable mental illness, while a score below 30 indicated a 10 percent likelihood.
The same UNC researchers, funded by M-3 Information, discussed the efficacy of the four-illness screening test in a paper that appeared in the Annals of Family Medicine in March 2010. The accuracy of the My Mood Monitor checklist “equals that of currently used single-disorder screening instruments and has the additional benefit of combining them into a 1-page tool,” the study concluded.