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Big Ideas Session: How Digital Health is Shaping the Future of Addiction Medicine

by | Apr 07, 2020

The focus of this year’s Big Ideas Session is something that affects us all, and something that could dramatically change addiction medicine in the near future.

Attendees were able to get a glimpse of the future during “How Digital Health is Shaping the Future of Addiction Medicine”, a live session, which took place Saturday, April 3rd. Lisa Marsch, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the Center for Technology and Behavioral Health at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College, lead an energetic session on how digital health is shaping the future of addiction medicine.

“I’m going to give a big picture overview of what’s evolved in scientific research and clinical applications of digital therapeutics, which are basically software tools that can be used as part of addiction treatment that can provide interactive, evidence-based behavioral therapies to people who are part of addiction treatment,” she said.

Dr. Marsch then lead a “fireside chat.” Panelists included George Koob, PhD, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA); Betty Tai, PhD, director of the Center for Clinical Trials Network NIDA, NIH, HHS, and ASAM President Paul Earley, MD, DFASAM, medical director at Georgia Professionals Health Program, Inc.

“The idea is that each speaker will have a chance to briefly review what’s exciting in their NIH institute, in scientific research and potential clinical applications of digital health tools, not just digital therapeutics, which I think is going to be a main theme of the panel that is heavy on intervention delivery and expanding resources for treatment,” Dr. Marsch said.

Also, during this session, Dr. Earley recognized award recipients who are making major contributions to the field.

Dr. Marsch shared that developments in health apps and wearables would be discussed.

“Dr. Koob is excited about wearable technology they’ve been using to detect alcohol use and about innovations in using emerging technologies and data science to inform treatment,” she said.

The panel also addressed issues surrounding privacy and data during the question and answer period that follows.

“It’s incredibly important and there’s a lot of attention being paid to that, particularly around sensitive issues around substance use, which can be an illegal behavior,” she said. “And how do you maintain privacy protections in the way you develop these and transfer data and who owns the data?”

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