New smartphone app provides point-of-care treatment algorithms for major depression

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Columbia School of Psychiatry, in partnership with avoMD, a next-generation clinical decision support platform, has developed an interactive smartphone application that provides point-of-care treatment algorithms for major depression.

The app, known as Columbia Psychiatry Pathways, supports and strengthens the ability of clinicians to provide essential mental health services in an outpatient setting.

Depression is fast becoming the leading cause of disability worldwide, and the front line of major depression treatment professionals are family physicians and internists. This app is designed to help clinicians treat depression more effectively. It also helps them monitor the patient’s response and when a referral can be given. “

J. John Mann, MD, Paul Janssen Professor of Translational Neuroscience (in Psychiatry and Radiology)

One of the challenges of screening for depression, especially in primary care, is that providers don’t always know what to do next.

“Scientific articles and clinical guidelines are constantly evolving. It’s hard for healthcare providers to stay up to date, ”said Ravi N. Shah, MD, co-inventor and chief innovation officer, Columbia Psychiatry. “This app combines Columbia Psychiatry’s world-class expertise with avoMD’s next-generation decision support technology to put the latest scientific knowledge in the hands of clinicians, serving as an interactive manual for treating depression quickly and easily. effectively.”

Combine software and clinical expertise

The clinical decision support tool, developed by Drs. Shah and Mann, in conjunction with avoMD, is intended for use by psychiatrists, primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, medical students, residents, and outpatient interns when treating patients. suffering from major depression.

Available as a mobile app and on desktop devices, the evidence-based platform updates previous depression treatment guidelines. The algorithm focuses on faster drug adjustments by focusing on the seven best tolerated generic antidepressants.

It measures symptom severity using built-in calculators based on the Columbia Depression Scale and includes screens for bipolar disorder and suicide risk.

First-line treatment for depression can save lives

The World Health Organization estimates that 5 percent of the world’s population (around 280 million people) suffer from depression. Depression is strongly associated with suicidal ideation and attempts, with suicide killing more than 700,000 people each year.

Research has shown that primary care providers who integrate behavioral health into their practices can improve clinical outcomes and even save lives. In a systematic review of suicide prevention strategies, researchers at Columbia found that training primary care physicians in recognizing depression and treating drugs prevents suicide, often halving the risk.

Although primary care providers are often on the front line of managing patients’ depression, they may feel insufficiently trained or underfunded to effectively treat and monitor and prevent relapses.

David Buchholz, MD, founding senior medical director, Primary Care, at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, believes primary care practitioners will welcome the Columbia Psychiatry Pathways app into their practice.

“Treating major depression in a primary care setting, particularly in a patient with co-morbidities, is a challenge,” Buchholz said. “An application that serves as a virtual point-of-care consultation can validate the knowledge of a PCP and give us confidence that we can do a good job caring for patients.”


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