Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, NY is now embarking on an experiment to test the effectiveness of CrossCheck, a smartphone app designed to keep track of schizophrenic patients and determine if a relapse is likely. John Kane, the chairman of psychiatry at the hospital says that patients come in once a month for therapy after being discharged. However, doctors have no way of monitoring their behavior in between appointments, and patients may get themselves into legal trouble or physical danger in the lapse between sessions.
150 patients with a schizophrenia diagnosis that were discharged from Zucker Hillside within the past year have been chosen for this experiment. Half of those patients will receive standard hospital procedures following discharge while the other half will be monitored using the CrossCheck app. The app has various sensors which monitor location via GPS, how quickly the user is moving (to determine if they are walking, running, or sedentary), it also monitors frequency and duration of conversations (but not content) in person and over the phone with the use of a small microphone, and finally determines how often and for how long patients are sleeping by determining when the phone is idle. When any of these sensors detect behavior that is a known sign of relapse– such as irregular sleeping patterns, rapid speech or constant movements– patients with the CrossCheck app will receive an alert suggesting they seek professional help. Additionally, the program investigators at the hospital will receive a notification as well.
All of these trackers may seem excessive and dangerous considering schizophrenic patients are predisposed to paranoia. However, patients in the experiment will receive an education component, informing them of what the sensors will be looking for and reminding patients that the app is a combined effort between the patient and doctor to keep the patient healthy.