Technology, specifically, information technology(IT) has entered in every realm of human life. How can health domain stay away from it? Bringing IT to health domain has been happening for quite some time now. Bringing efficiency, speed, accuracy to deliver health services is the key focus. Capturing medical and health data, and using that for analysis, ease of access to benefit users by way of Electronic Health Care(EHR) is another big initiative in the recent times. Various standards such as HIPAA have come out because various stake holders which are involved in the game. I am not even talking of technology based innovations such as electronic devices for various medical instruments, medical imaging, robots carrying out surgeries. In the past, I have been associated with two startups involved in health domain. One was involved in pathology domain, and another was involved in hospital logistics management.
Mental health is domain which is slightly different and is also seeing technology based innovation helping various stakeholders there. Apart from applying usual technology based solutions to mental health domain, there are specific challenges which needs to addressed. I support and volunteer Schizophrenia Awareness Association(SAA). We deal with key stakeholders such as persons with mental illness(PMI), psychiatrists, counsellers and caregivers. There are many challenges, and some of them can be solved using IT specifically using social, mobile, analytics, cloud(SMAC) based solutions. According to WHO, worldwide, there are 450 million PMI served by 200 thousand psychiatrists. There is a huge demand supply gap. Psychiatrists cannot spend enough time with their patients. In mental health domain, talking to PMI and caregiver on issues, progress since last visit, is key for treatment(rather than physical examination in case of other illnesses). I wanted to write about couple of initiatives I know of which are addressing these challenges using technology in their own way.
First one is a USA based company named TrustCircle. I happened to interact with their founder Sachin Chaudhary during a session in SAA recently. He himself a caregiver, got inspired by challenges faced, worked towards creating his mobile app. The app is still under limited pilot and is by invitation only. The app is peer centered mental health network, for better communication between service provider, PMI and caregiver. You may find more about it here. In case of mental health, the trust, privacy, consent of PMI are key elements.
One needs to take care of these in every aspect of their treatment, rehabilitation. The other aspect is also of rights of PMI. Any technology based solution needs to ensure that this is taken care of. The name of their app epitomizes this fact-TrustCircle, which fosters to create network of trusted individuals or organization. The app is in its initial stages, and they have sizable plans to improve its functionality and usefulness with various features to be launched in due course of time. You may find many more such innovations in mental health domain over here.
The other example I know of is The Hope Network about which I read about in the news paper sometime back. It is online counselling portal, repository of useful information to stake holders in the mental illness care-giving. The counselling can happen via email, text chat, voice chat or video chat. You may find more info on their website here. Their scope and reach is broader, not just limited to mental health, but also in the area of psychological issues, relationship issues among others.
Please feel to share your technology innovation in mental health, whether you are part of or are aware of.