“Often, innovation is a product of desperation. I have seen too many of my patients die from opioid overdoses, and I’ve decided to create something that can stop this.”
This is the opening description of an innovative idea that Joseph Insler, MD, an early–career psychiatrist in Boston, pitched to the judges last October.
As one of the judges, this is how I described the item: “It’s like a Fitbit for people addicted to opioids, who are at risk of overdose. But, instead of tracking your footsteps and your sleep movements, it tracks your blood oxygen level, heart rate, and lack of movement. Based on an algorithm tuned to identify signs of an overdose, the Opioid Overdose Recovery Bracelet would give you a shot of medicine in your wrist. If you have accidentally overdosed, it will give you a premeasured dose of naloxone from its reservoir, likely saving your life.”
The goal of the Psychiatry Innovation Lab is to catalyze the formation of innovative ventures to transform mental health. “We nurture early stage ideas and ventures by investing in them with mentorship, education, funding, and collaboration opportunities with our community of mental health innovators,” Dr. Vasan said. At its core, the lab is an interactive exercise in experiential learning, where participants learn how to develop and pitch an entrepreneurial idea and then work together with experts in real time to improve their idea so that they leave with a solid plan for improving mental health. A panel of judges and leaders in innovation collaborate by providing feedback and mentoring. The competition event uses a “Shark Tank” style of winnowing out competitors but is a friendlier format than that of the.
“There’s been a real call to action for using entrepreneurship to change the future, and the Psychiatry Innovation Lab is our answer to that call,” Dr. Vasan said. “We’ve had finalists ranging from high school students to emeritus professors. We’ve seen ideas for [anything from] advancing human rights all the way to using technology to improve access to care.”
Access to mental health and addiction care is one of the driving forces behind a recent wave of investment in behavioral health. There is a lot of interest now in how newer technologies can be leveraged in to improve access, screening, prevention, analytics, and treatments. Younger people coming into the field now have a much shorter path between idea and action. “Think of the lab as a place where people turn their idealism into impact. They learn how to create change that reflects our values: effective, measurable, collaborative, affordable, and sustainable.”
New lab will set records
On May 21, at the APA annual meeting in San Diego, the third Innovation Lab event will take place with record sponsorship and funding. More than $30,000 in prizes will be awarded to winning teams in the following categories: Grand Prize, Audience Choice, Outstanding Progress, Most Promising Innovation, and Most Disruptive Innovation. New this year, the Accelerator Prize will be awarded to the alumni team that has made the most progress since its participation in a previous Innovation Lab. A special prize from Google, worth $20,000, will be given to the innovation that best uses the potential of Cloud services, including Web applications, software, and machine learning.
Also, on May 21, the live Innovation Lab event will begin with the seven finalists giving initial pitches about their innovative ideas for improving mental health care delivery and how psychiatrists are diagnosing, treating, or managing patients. In addition, 10 semifinalists will be selected to deliver rapid pitches. Audience members will then vote from their devices, and the top semifinalist will proceed as a finalist. The event will end with an evening networking session aimed at building community and collaborations among mental health innovators, including clinicians, entrepreneurs, engineers, investors, and patients.
To learn more or watch videos about these innovators, go to www.psychiatryinnovation.com, or search for “APA innovation lab.”
Dr. Daviss is the chief medical informatics officer at M3 Information and chairs the American Psychiatric Association’s Committee on Mental Health Information Technology.
Psychiatry Innovation Lab alumni
Entrepreneurs from the October 2016 competition created products that addressed addiction, autism, Alzheimer’s, posttraumatic stress disorder, and other mental disorders.
- Overdose Recovery Bracelet – “A novel solution to the opioid epidemic” – Joseph Insler
- Spectrum – “An app to encourage facial processing and emotion recognition in autism spectrum disorder” – Swathi Krishna
- Spring – “Enabling personalized behavioral healthcare using machine learning and big data” – April Koh
- Alzhelp – “Using augmented reality and intelligent personal assistant software to keep Alzheimer’s patients safe” – Akanksha Jain, Michelle Koh, and Priscilla Siow
- MiHelper – “Identifying patterns of distress and determining optimal periods for real time mental health interventions” – Kammarauche Isuzu and Mackenzie Drazan
- WEmbrace – “A mobile application for foreign-background psychiatric patients to effectively provide critical care” – Ellen Oh
- Broadleaf Mental Health –“Reaching school-aged children in the rural eastern Himalayas” – Michael Matergia
- TechLink – “Connecting students and tech” – Akanksha Jain, Michelle Koh, and Priscilla Siow
- Beacon – “Smarter therapy. Together” – Shrenik Jain and Ravi Shah
- Muse – “Assisted meditation in mental health” – Graeme Moffat
- MiResource – “Helping adolescents find the right therapeutic fit” – Gabriela Asturias and Mackenzie Drazen
- BraVe Reality – “Virtual treatment for PTSD patients” – Monica Kullar
- SKNR – “A user-centric psychotherapy tool for the digital age” – Hyun-Hee Kim
- We2Link – “Connect better” – Michael Malone PRISM – “Helping patients gain insight through digital art mobile app” – Kenechi Ejebe and Whitney McFadden
SOURCE: Dr. Daviss