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How Digital Health Navigators Make Digital Health Work for Your Practice

  • March 28, 2024

Among the many impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it led to a swift and dramatic increase in the use of telehealth and other digital technologies. While the use of telehealth has gone down across all specialties since the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency in May 2023, healthcare systems across the world now rely on telehealth and mobile technology.

One primary use of mobile technology is to engage people in their own care and support their recovery needs. The constant access to and always-on nature of smart devices makes it perfect for that. After all, 97% of Americans own a mobile phone. And there are as many as 20,000 mental health apps, which can be great complementary tools to traditional telehealth.

The Challenge

Despite the big energy in digital health and mobile apps, there is still a gap in patient engagement. This limits the clinical impact of technology despite its usage and promise.

The Solution

So how do we address this and make digital health a widely used and effective pathway to better mental health outcomes? SMI Adviser has a practical and scalable solution: the Digital Health Navigator Training. It is self-paced, focuses on skills, and helps train more digital health navigators (DHNs).

What are DHNs?

DHNs help practices make the most of digital tools, devices, and data. They also help patients understand and use digital tools to support their recovery. In other words, they teach people digital literacy skills so they can better engage in their own care.

Digital Health Navigator Training

The six modules in the SMI Adviser DHN training cover many topics around digital literacy skills and digital health tools. It provides guidance that clinicians and clinical support staff need to serve as effective DHNs and help individuals support their own recovery goals and stay more engaged in their own care.

The training helps develop and refine specific digital literacy skills that DHNs can then teach to patients, like how to:

  • Use digital tools to create self-care regimens, take medications as needed, avoid triggers, track mood and symptoms, and reduce stress.
  • Use basic smartphone functions to set appointment and medication reminders, use self-care apps, and send messages.
  • Troubleshoot basic technology issues that often lead people to disengage with treatment.
  • Evaluate devices and apps through the lens of privacy, safety, and ease of use.
  • Find credible answers to common questions around medications and treatment.

The training is ideal for peer specialists, case managers, and front office staff. Of course, clinicians can complete the training too and it offers five CME/CE credits.

Why DHNs and Digital Literacy Matter

The need for DHNs and how to train them is well documented. The SMI Adviser DHN training provides a blueprint for how to use digital literacy to empower people to engage in their own care, track progress, attain recovery goals, and more.

DHNs work with people to build, hone, and use their digital literacy skills. Evidence shows that digital literacy training improves functional skills for people who have SMI. In daily clinical practice at mental health settings, better digital literacy leads to more people who can easily register and use online patient portals to send clinicians a message, connect to a telehealth appointment without difficulty and activate, use, and share data from a wearable device.

When people in your care have better digital literacy skills, it can benefit their recovery and benefit your practice. Better digital literacy can:

  • Lead to appropriate and sustained use of technology to support goals;
  • Increase use of telehealth, ensure fewer no-shows, more engagement, and higher satisfaction;
  • Free-up valuable clinician time from troubleshooting technology; and
  • Allow staff to focus on priority services that generate revenue.

Next Steps

  1. To learn more about the Digital Health Navigator Training, visit
  2. To learn more about digital literacy and specific ways that it supports recovery goals, visit

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