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So far, 75% of the UPMC primary care patients who have tried Lantern have completed at least three different cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, and even more impressive, have experienced a 38% reduction in their behavioral health symptoms, Szigethy says.
These techniques, such as a deep breathing technique, typically require less than five minutes each to perform, and users can repeat them as often as desired.
"Anxiety and depression are being increasingly recognized as a medical burden not just in already identified psychiatric populations, but in primary care," Szigethy says. "The current standard of care for treating anxiety and depression consists of making an appointment with a behavioral health specialist and/or prescribing medication, and both of those can be problematic. There's a shortage of providers. Psychotropic medications are expensive. They have side effects. The cognitive behavioral therapy patients do better."
Szigethy, who is also codirector of UPMC's Total Care Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Medical Home, a joint effort with the UPMC Health Plan and a subspecialty medical home for IBD patients, says Lantern shows promise in helping IBD patients integrate cognitive behavioral therapy into their overall treatment plan.
In an ongoing open trial involving 12 patients at a time, 98% of such patients engaged in using Lantern, says Szigethy.
In a study published in Gastroenterology, UPMC also revealed that a social worker attached to Total Care-IBD was able to reduce the time and effort needed to work with each individual patient by 50%, Szigethy adds.
Science has known for years of a strong correlation between behavioral health and chronic diseases such as IBD, according to Rasu Shrestha, MD, chief innovation officer at UPMC and executive vice president at UPMC Enterprises.
Szigethy notes that medical services utilization for those IBD patients using Lantern is declining and, if these trends continue, it will allow the IBD medical home to reallocate team resources and double the number of patients that can be seen in the next year, she says.
"It can be an extension of care for existing behavioral therapists, so they can see more patients, or it can be used as an adjunct to treatment or as a first-line therapy before you put someone on a psychotropic medication. For all those reasons, it was compelling to test a product like Lantern in the UPMC environment," she says.