???This grant will allow us to take a big step forward in engaging young patients and their families as partners in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems.??? - Rasim Somer Diler, MD, medical director of inpatient child and adolescent bipolar services, Western Psychiatric Institute of UPMC


Grant Application

Rasim Somer Diler, MD, of the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, in partnership with Christopher Gessner, Ken Nash, MD, Cami Herisko, DNP, Frank A. Ghinassi, PhD, Jessica Singer, RN, BSN, Nicole Kroll, MS, Jack Doman, MS, Melissa Nossal, PhD, Tamare Piersaint, MSc, Kathy Scheuble, LSW, Dominic Atwater, LSW, Jessica Tintera, LSA, Matt Milliken, MEd,Gina Rudulph, MEd, Frank DePietro, MD, Marty Lubetsky, MD, Tina Goldstein, PhD, and Boris Birmaher, MD


Proposed Innovation

Pediatric bipolar disorder (PBD) is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels. Its symptoms can result in damaged relationships, academic difficulties, substance use, medical problems, and suicide. Correctly identifying complex mood cycles is key to diagnosis and treatment, but it can be challenging — particularly in adolescents who (with or without PBD) can experience mood fluctuations, including ups and downs. Diagnosis can be further complicated because adolescents and their parents frequently disagree when it comes to mood assessment.

This project uses a novel “mood and energy” thermometer along with an interactive wall projection (equipped with gesture-based tracking technology) and a web-based smart phone app to improve participation and assessments by young patients and encourage communication and partnership between patients, parents, and physicians.


Improvements in Action

Young patients will enter their mood ratings twice a day on a large interactive wall screen while trained clinicians coach them about using the scale accurately and independently. The app will include an “alert my treatment team mode” for high score entries, as well as a “voice command” and “simplify me” options.

These ratings will be sent in real-time via email/text to parents and physicians, and be available on a secure database for access by computer or smartphone. A computer, or e-communication station, will also be made available in the waiting area for parents who do not have Internet access.


Results – In Progress

To date, equipment and programs have been installed and website designed and tested. In addition, staff members have undergone special training. The next step is to introduce patients and parents to the “mood and energy thermometer.” Data on mood and energy ratings will be collected and analyzed. An application for outpatients also will be developed.

The project is expected to encourage young patients to use the self-rating scale during inpatient stays and more accurately report their mood and energy. Providing real-time information about daily mood rating also will improve parents’ understanding of their child’s complex mood cycles, minimize discrepancies, and allow for more tailored and effective treatment by the inpatient team. It is also expected to enhance communication and foster partnerships between adolescents, parents, and physicians.