An app a day keeps the doctor away? Healthy digital developments

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Mobile applications are delivering benefits in health service delivery, particularly for young people. But don’t just play in the digital space for the sake of it.

Whether it’s personalising information or bridging geographic divides, the internet is broadening the possibilities for health service delivery. But it’s important to remain focused on the goal and not get caught up in technology for its own sake.

There are already a range of websites and apps available that appear to be useful, according to a panel discussion on health and digital technology at the Australian Internet Governance Forum in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Child and adolescent psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg praised youth counselling service eheadspace — “which works”, even if not perfectly. He also professed to using in his own practice MoodGYM, a 20-year-old online program for the treatment of depression and anxiety — “probably the most researched piece of online technology that psychologists use … [which] is as effective for low level depression and anxiety as an hour with [a psychologist]” — and Clear Your Vision, an online do-it-yourself guide to quitting cannabis which “seems to work”.

Youth, he says, are easier to engage through new technology because “the people who own the most mobile phones are young people, the people who download the most apps are young people”.

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