Transforming mental health with digital healthcare in 2022

Since the pandemic, we have recognized the value of digital technology and data in predicting health outcomes – with tangible economic and social implications for all aspects of our lives.

Organizations around the world have had to adapt operationally with new tools, systems and services to meet fluctuating demand, supply and capacity. From last-mile delivery to virtual reality e-commerce to the metaverse, the pace of innovation has never been faster.

Healthcare is catching up. The need to find better ways to connect with patients and colleagues, reduce administration and pressure on overburdened systems while managing rising costs is driving the demand for better technology.

With expected continued growth of nearly 20% between 2021 and 2030, telemedicine is emerging as a new frontier: a healthtech ecosystem that connects patients, physicians, and systems to drive access, quality, and ease of use for all.

A recent study showed that 96% of clinicians are now using telemedicine for medical care, with 91% planning to continue using the technology post-pandemic. And this is having a cross-system impact: governments and agencies around the world are seeing the benefits that digital diagnostic and healthcare data can bring. From improved funding cycles to strengthening system resilience; faster diagnosis and treatment for individuals; to driving quality health outcomes with personalized and preventive medicine.

Certainly, the future of healthcare is exciting. But we must act quickly: With nearly 1 billion people currently diagnosed with a mental disorder, we face a global crisis. We urgently need to look for new ways of working, treating and diagnosing patients: digital is part of the solution.

Anxiety, depression and sleep loss have emerged as some of the most common medical conditions brought on by the pandemic. Yet many still do not receive the treatment they need. Longer waiting times, geographical disparities, and the cost of mental health insurance are widening the gap in the provision of equitable mental health care.

In the UK, a recent report found that some vulnerable children are waiting up to three years for an appointment, leaving more children in crisis while others are seen in just under a week.

Against this backdrop, more needs to be done to improve mental health and ensure fair and equal access for all.

Last year, Kry saw an approximately 230% increase in demand for first-line mental health appointments compared to two years ago.

In response, Kry recently launched his own ICBT (Internet Cognitive Based Therapy) program – evidence-based mobile first-line treatment for:

  • depression
  • fear
  • Emphasize

Cognitive behavioral therapy has been a common and effective treatment for decades – digital delivery is an excellent example of how data and digital data can be used to deliver primary interventions and to scale diagnosis and treatment.

The mobile-ready ICBT program is designed to fit seamlessly into the daily lives of patients with a smartphone. With a combination of self-learning and professional therapy, patients are in control of when and how they access this type of healthcare—with modular self-learning tools, guidance, and regular check-ins via video and live chat.

The digital-first approach seems to be working. Average PHQ-9 scores for patients with depression enrolled in the Kry ICBT program improved from moderate to mild within 8-12 weeks. These results are comparable to those found in a large, independent UK study of traditional face-to-face CBT, and they create efficiencies at scale. Psychologists in Sweden using the Kry ICBT program have also been able to double their capacity to help more patients with an out of the box structured and tailored approach to individuals.

Other digital care innovations – such as software and communication solutions for healthcare professionals – will also be key to expanding the patient experience. In the UK, Mjog by livi, the UK’s largest messaging platform for GPs, has launched a remote monitoring tool that will help GPs identify and monitor people with depression through smartphone messages. By using the system, primary care practices no longer need to contact each patient they need to monitor by phone and manually code their responses. This saves hours and gives staff time to call patients who may not have access to a smartphone.

Experience and science already tell us that ICBT is just as effective. But the real game changer is that going digital through a device we have in our pockets can accelerate the efforts of psychologists and healthcare professionals to deliver a quality yet flexible approach to mental health, with an emphasis on qualitative and personalized care for patients.

Going forward, the role of digitization in healthcare should not be about replacing humans with bots, AI and data, but about how technology can give healthcare professionals the best tools to reach more patients and add value to overburdened systems in create all of Europe.

Innovation and collaboration between healthtech companies and the public sector are critical to empowering mental health and leveraging population health data to scale future services across the ecosystem. With improved reimbursement, equitable access, and ways to better connect patients, healthcare professionals, and services, digital healthcare can offer exciting new opportunities – provided we can work together to find smarter ways of dealing with interoperable systems and empowering individuals to take an active role in their treatment .

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