The Digital Revolution in Behavioral Health

J Am Psychiatr Nurses Assoc. 2020 Jan/Feb;26(1):102-111. doi: 10.1177/1078390319879750. Epub 2019 Oct 5.


BACKGROUND: Technology is disrupting every modern industry, from supermarkets to car manufacturing, and is now entering the health care space. Technological innovations in psychiatry include the opportunity for conducting therapy via two-way video conferencing, providing electronic consultations, and telementoring and education of community health care providers. Use of mobile health applications is also an expanding area of interest and promise. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this article is to review the evolution and pros and cons of technology-enabled health care since the digital movement in psychiatry began more than 50 years ago as well as describe the University of Rochester's innovative digital behavioral health care model. METHODS: A review of the literature and recent reports on innovations in digital behavioral health care was conducted, along with a review of the University of Rochester's model to describe the current state of digital behavioral health care. RESULTS: Given the lack of access to care and mental health professional shortages in many parts of the United States, particularly rural areas, digital behavioral health care will be an increasingly important strategy for managing mental health care needs. However, there are numerous hurdles to be overcome in adopting digital health care, including provider resistance and knowledge gaps, lack of reimbursement parity, restrictive credentialing and privileging, and overregulation at both the state and federal levels. CONCLUSIONS: Digital health innovations are transforming the delivery of mental health care services and psychiatric mental health nurses can be on the forefront of this important digital revolution.

Keywords: behavioral health; digital health; health care technology; psychiatric mental health nursing; telemedicine; telepsychiatry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Technology / economics*
  • Diffusion of Innovation*
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Psychiatry / trends*
  • Telemedicine / economics
  • Telemedicine / trends*
  • United States