New Google hire Dr. Insel describes 'explosion' of interest in devices for mental health conditions

National Institute of Mental Health Director Dr. Tom Insel surprised many by announcing he will soon leave the government sector to work at Google's ($GOOG) life sciences group. In an interview with Fortune, he made it clear he's bullish on med tech, saying, "Over the last 5 years, we've seen a serious reduction in pharmaceutical initiatives for mental health. But, at the same time, we're seeing an explosion of interest on the device side. Some of this reflects changing science, but a lot of it reflects how our conceptualizations of what these illnesses are about have changed." In addition, he said Google excels in some arenas where he said the government is lacking, namely the implementation of new ideas, data analytics, and behavioral analysis. "There have been recent studies that show you can decode a person's speech patterns to get an early indication of when someone is becoming psychotic. Long before a doctor might detect it in an interview, these individuals are stringing their words together in a subtle, but abnormal way. You can create algorithms to identify these abnormalities very precisely and objectively. And, in doing so, you may be able to prevent a psychotic break," he said. Several apps have been developed that attempt to diagnose conditions like autism via recorded behavioral cues, and more are on the way. More