Dr. Arshya Vahabzadeh (f1id: @AlphaNeuron) 是哈佛醫學院精神病學講師，同時也是神經科技公司Brain Power的數字策略主管。擁有著家庭醫學、精神病學、和小兒精神病學的專科背景，他還是麻省綜合醫院的教員，美國精神病協會傳播委員會主席，也是移動可穿戴設備在精神健康應用方面的專家。
Dr. Arshya Vahabzadeh (@AlphaNeuron) is an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of digital strategy at the neuro-technology company Brain Power. Trained in family medicine, psychiatry, and pediatric psychiatry, he is on faculty at Massachusetts General Hospital, chairman of the Council on Communications of the American Psychiatric Association, and an expert on the application of mobile, wearable, and augmented technologies to mental health.
He is a consultant to Khan Academy, Neurolaunch, and Anthem. Dr. Vahabzadeh is widely published in clinical neuroscience, digital health, and medical communication. He is also a fellow with the American Resident Project, a platform for future physician leaders to exchange views and explore ideas for transforming healthcare.
Q: Can you talk about your work with the American Resident Project?
A: My main interests are healthcare innovation, patient engagement, and behavioral health issues, so I』ve collaborated with the American Resident Project in a variety of ways. Some of my work has been featured on The Healthcare Blog, as well as on KevinMD. I was also a panellist (小組成員) and judge at their 2014 Primary Care Innovation Challenge here at Harvard. The challenge focused on promoting transformative ideas that help primary care physicians improve outcomes and reduce costs in a rapidly changing healthcare system.
Q: How do you think technology is transforming the psychiatry and mental health field?
A: We are seeing a period of exponential (指數型的) technological growth – it is essential that medicine leverages this trend. By utilizing digital technologies, we can deliver enhanced population health management of large groups of patients, while also discovering new ways to propel the future delivery of precision medicine.
Telemedicine can allow patients to overcome barriers to access, such as location and cost. With psychiatry in particular, telemedicine may allow for better engagement of patients with anxiety, autism (自閉症), and schizophrenia. The use of smartphones and portable devices can allow us to monitor patients, their activities, and their response to treatments.
Analyzing data from these devices can revolutionize the care these patients receive. The emergence of big data sets combined with the right analytic tools can allow us to define patient subgroups among our broader conditions, which is a huge challenge right now in psychiatry.
Q: You』re also trained as a family physician. How does that training complement your work as a psychiatrist?
A: This type of dual training is quite rare. Understanding psychiatric disorders, the brain, and how the brain communicates with the body has helped me both in clinical practice and in research. Unhealthy behaviors account for a tremendous amount of our healthcare spending through their propensity (傾向) to lead to, and exacerbate (加重), chronic physical health conditions.
My training has allowed me to rapidly identify and overcome behavioral barriers that affect my patients overall health. Dual training has also been invaluable to my role as a VP at Brain Power, a startup using specialized software for Google Glass to deliver assistive tools for children with autism.
How do you think healthcare professionals can better educate their patients on mental health?
Physicians are always short on time, but I think it』s very important to set aside a reasonable length of time to discuss these issues. Mental health is often a difficult subject to broach (開口) and you need to understand to whom you are talking. Knowing your audience will help you assess the barriers to care, whether they are financial, cultural, or otherwise.
I would also suggest avoiding providing a list of facts, as that is not always helpful or engaging to a patient. I』ve found the use ofnarrative storytellingis really important. Using visual aids like images or charts helps patients to contextualize bigger ideas.
What are some ways psychiatrists can continue their medical education once they』ve started working in the field?
As mentioned, time is always limited. My personal preference is to read key findings, journals, and publications. I also read a lot of healthcare and technology blogs because they can be ahead of certain trends in academic medicine. Closely following the media to see how the world is viewing different issues also frames my work.
I』m involved with the American Psychiatric Association, which is important because it is the backbone of American Psychiatry, and produces a considerable amount of informative educational content. I would recommend following key thought leaders on social media. Being connected to KOLs (關鍵意見領袖) in medicine, and understanding what issues they are broaching and how is very educational. I tend to also use social media platforms, specifically LinkedIn and Twitter, to learn and to engage with my peers.
Q: There"s so much discussion about breaking down stigma (污名) surrounding mental health. What do you think are the most important things that we, as healthcare providers, can do to make a difference on that front?
A: Stigma is huge, but there is evidence that we are making a difference. I think it"s important to have a public voice, and be active on social media. It"s also encouraging that prominent figures are more open to discussing their mental health concerns. I believe clinicians/psychiatrists should be active on social media in a professional way.
Q: Can you please share some concrete examples of wearables being used in mental health treatments?
Many mental health related wearables/devices are in the research stage and are not being recommended by MDs per se. However many of my patients are using apps on their smartphones, or devices such as MUSE to help with meditation and calmness. The evidence base varies dramatically between these technologies/apps.
To be more accurate, the evidence base for many mental health apps on smartphones remains quite poor, and I believe is part of the reluctance (不願意) for many physicians to recommend them in their clinics.
Q: What specific technologies is Brain Power leveraging? What"s been the biggest challenge the company has faced in implementing the technology?
A: At Brain Power we are using a range of augmented reality technologies to help people with autism teach themselves crucial social and cognitive skills. We use a variety of wearable and smart glass technologies. We also have research and development arms across several other mental health conditions. There are many complex technical & scientific challenges to developing clinically effective tech.
See some our work at: