Supporting Digital Innovations in Behavioral Health

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Overview

Mental Health America (MHA) has partnered with the Digital Therapeutics Alliance (DTA) for a Policy Institute to explore what the emergence of digital therapeutics means for mental health and substance use policy. While we will not attribute anything said in the Policy Institute to any of the attendees, we will use the discussion to inform a policy brief that will help guide the field as it navigates technology, policy, and behavioral health.

Technology has been disrupting everything from how we travel to how we buy groceries, but mental health and substance use treatment has largely remained the same. In some cases this may be for the best - disruption without evidence might not help people, and it may even hurt them. In the past few years, however, several technologies have undergone rigorous evaluations and demonstrated effectiveness in treating mental health and substance use conditions, and more and more are even receiving approval by the FDA. While there are many different kinds of digital health innovations, technologies that undergo these kind of rigorous reviews are referred to as "digital therapeutics."

To date digital therapeutics have received little policy consideration, as most digital health policy tackled critical issues in telehealth and health IT. For those who advocate for advancing behavioral health care and lowering consumer costs, what do digital therapeutics mean for policy? In a payment system designed for providers, drugs, and devices, how do digital therapeutics fit in and how can policy help build a supportive clinical context for delivering effective digital therapeutics to those who would most benefit?

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