Embedding is already happening, however – Greater Manchester mental health foundation trust uses ClinTouch, for example: a mobile app for people recovering from psychosis, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Although patients will typically see a care co-ordinator monthly, symptoms of a relapse can appear within days; with the app, users are asked how they feel a few times a day, and an alert is generated if a relapse looks likely. Shôn Lewis, University of Manchester professor of adult psychiatry, says about half of patients find it useful and most stick with it; some even suggest new functions, such as a diary facility and medication reminders.
But it has taken time to convince healthcare professionals. “They thought it was science fiction, it would never work, patients would never use it,” says Lewis who started working on ClinTouch a decade ago. But other trusts are piloting the app, which is also set to be made publicly available later this year.