Current Psychiatry Reports

, 19:96 | Cite as

Review of Use and Integration of Mobile Apps Into Psychiatric Treatments

  • Steven ChanEmail author
  • Haley Godwin
  • Alvaro Gonzalez
  • Peter M. Yellowlees
  • Donald M. Hilty
Psychiatry in the Digital Age (J Shore, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Psychiatry in the Digital Age


Purpose of Review

Mental health practitioners should understand the features of current, publicly available apps; the features of novel, research apps; and issues behind the integration of mobile apps and digital health services into clinical workflows.

Recent Findings

The review is based on a research literature and the authors’ clinical and healthcare administration experiences. Articles searched—on telepsychiatry, telemental health, mobile mental health, informatics, cellular phone, ambulatory monitoring, telemetry, and algorithms—were restricted to 2016 and 2017. Technologies are used in a variety of clinical settings, including patients with varying mental illness severity, social supports, and technological literacy. Good practices for evaluating apps, understanding user needs, and training and educating users can increase success rates. Ethics and risk management should be considered.


Mobile apps are versatile. Integrating apps into psychiatric treatment requires addressing both patient and clinical workflows, design and usability principles, accessibility, social concerns, and digital health literacy.


Mental health apps Smartphone apps Psychiatric services Telepsychiatry Clinical informatics Ambulatory monitoring 



Special thanks to UC Davis Department of Psychiatry, the UCSF Department of Psychiatry, the UCSF Division of Hospital Medicine, and the Office of the Chief Health Informatics Officer at UCSF Health.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Steven Chan reports being financially compensated by North American Center for Continuing Medical Education, LLC for teaching.

Haley Godwin, Alvaro Gonzalez, Peter M. Yellowlees, and Donald M. Hilty each declare no potential conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Chan
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Haley Godwin
    • 3
  • Alvaro Gonzalez
    • 3
  • Peter M. Yellowlees
    • 3
  • Donald M. Hilty
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Division of Hospital Medicine Clinical InformaticsUniversity of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of California, DavisSacramentoUSA
  4. 4.Kaweah Delta Health Care DistrictVisaliaUSA
  5. 5.University of Southern California, Keck School of MedicineLos AngelesUSA

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