Editor’s Note: Kouris Kalligas is the CEO and co-founder of Therachat, an automated, intelligent system will reply and save the conversations so you can monitor their mental status in between sessions.
Technology has been tested and proven effective in many advanced and innovative industries, and is now extending and applying its benefits to more regulated industries such as healthcare. According to Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2017 report, healthcare is “at a digital inflection point.” She recognized and attributed this change in part to the increase of data collection from fitness trackers and health apps as well as the increase of hospitals sharing healthcare data with patients.
As part of the report, consumers who were surveyed revealed which of the major tech companies they trust most with their private healthcare data. The results, showcased in the above graphic, is very telling of how consumers are becoming increasingly receptive to their data being shared and leveraged by these companies. By embracing the integration of technology, the healthcare industry has access to data that can be analyzed and leveraged for many opportunities ahead.
The mental health industry is ripe for innovation.
However, mental health services is still an area of healthcare that has lagged behind and is often overlooked in regards to technology. And with Trumpcare threatening to cut financial support for those living and coping with mental health issues, it’s become increasingly important to raise awareness towards methods that can aid in support services. The rise and increase in self-help and wellness tools available have already begun to demonstrate the impact technology could play in personal development and the care delivered in therapy and counseling, but there is much progress to be made.
With almost every consumer equipped with smart and connected devices, mobility has paved the path for increasing consumer accessibility and patient engagement. According to the Journal of Medical Internet Research, 58 percent of mobile phone users have downloaded at least one health-related mobile app. It’s time for the mental health industry to consider how to leverage the widespread adoption of mobile devices to help achieve individual therapy goals.
When considering the adoption and integration of tech tools into mental health services and the care provided, make sure to do the research and understand the benefits for your practice and client.
The use cases of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning could create more personalized engagement for mental healthcare. Advancements in mobile technology has turned the traditional journaling process into a digitized activity. As the technology industry continues to explore ways to integrate AI and machine learning tools into the digital journaling process, there will be opportunities to extend the capabilities for clients to document in a new way – with a smart chatbot.
While still a ways away, chatbots may eventually be able to customize the conversations they’re having with your clients based on previous words used, past conversations and the therapist’s input. Today, the technology automates the journaling process; tomorrow, AI and machine learning will enable you to to have a personalized conversation with a chatbot. These engagements help motivate clients to journal and record different types of information including their mood, emotions and feelings throughout the week between each therapy session.
Data science provides a deeper understanding of client activities. Data analytics and data visualization tools can collect, store and analyze client data and create easy to read, digestible reports, allowing therapists to gain a deeper understanding of their client activities and progress. Previously, therapists did not have enough hours in the day to realistically consume every one of their client’s entries. That’s changed today as the power of data analytics provides therapists with just the relevant, high-level details.
In addition, these technologies are able to identify trends and patterns with client entries. By understanding what the most frequent words being used are, therapists will be able to understand a client’s tone, sentiment and in the future, track progress. Combined with advancements in AI and machine learning, the future will be able to monitor words used in specific context, creating a whole new world of possibilities in mental healthcare.
When determining if you should invest in mobile technology for your patients, consider the successes of other industries. From retail to transportation, industries that touch the consumer have been leveraging mobile tech and data-oriented tools to personalize experiences and optimize customer service. The healthcare industry as a whole has benefited from leveraging these every day mobile technologies, from diagnosing patients to tracking medication consumption. Consider the time, accuracy and efficiency benefits that can be reaped by combining technology with human care for mental health services.
Every industry will modernize at its own pace. Mental health is a sector ripe for innovation. The intersection of consumer behavior and therapy treatment presents an opportunity for technology to make a true impact and create new efficiencies. Mental health professionals must take these technological advancements into consideration, or risk being displaced by competing approaches to treatment.