5 Ways Technology Is Revolutionizing Mental Health
Over the past decade, many industries have been quick to adopt and take advantage of new technologies.
12:02 14 January 2021
One area that has benefited from this new era of innovation is the health sector. However, mental health professionals and patients have yet to tap into the full power of the technology that is available today. Here are some ways tech is changing the face of mental health.
Development of Behavioral Health EHR Software
Mental health professionals need to keep track of a lot of information. They need to record diagnoses, treatment plans, appointment times, insurance information, billing details, and much more. Unfortunately, most electronic health record (EHR) tools aren't built for mental health clinicians’ needs.
Today, psychiatrists have access to specialty specific software systems such as RevenueXL that enables them to devote their time to the work that matters and improves patient experience. These tools come with helpful features, such as tracking patient health history, providing treatment plan resources, monitoring progress, managing medication and facilitating collaborative care.
Rise of Mobile Apps Dedicated to Mental Health
There is an app for everything these days, and the behavioral health industry hasn't been left behind. Due to the rising demand for access to mental health services, clinicians sometimes struggle to cope with the demand and the need to maintain quality care. Practitioners and patients are now turning to mobile applications for help.
Mobile apps are playing a more prominent role in helping non-emergency patients manage their symptoms, lifting the burden off physicians and allowing medics to focus on more acute cases. Using apps, practitioners can determine when a patient needs immediate intervention, find guidance on managing a range of conditions, and provide follow-up.
Use of Virtual Reality Treatment
Although virtual reality (VR) is a relatively new field, it's becoming increasingly clear that it can play a significant role in helping treat mental disorders. Apart from easing conditions such as PTSD, phobias, and anxiety using medication, therapy, and exercise, some mental health practitioners are now adding virtual reality to the treatment plan.
VR technology is used to recreate the personal triggers of a patient, but in a safe and controlled environment. Using special headsets, the patient is exposed to the stimuli, allowing them to understand that their perceived threats are not going to harm them. Ultimately, the patient develops coping techniques, reducing the anxiety and stress felt when they encounter the things that induce their fears.
Availability of Internet Based Support Groups
When it comes to mental health, it has long been known that peer support enhances recovery and reduces crisis admissions. However, a good number of people aren't able to attend local support groups. Some have social anxiety, while others fear being stigmatized, and others have tight schedules. Mental health providers and support workers can now reach these individuals through internet based support groups.
These support group meetings are hosted on secure platforms that patients can access anytime. There is also the option to remain anonymous, if patients are not comfortable sharing their identities. The website or chat room offers a safe space where patients can share their stories, reveal their struggles, exchange advice, and encourage each other without fear. Most platforms also provide resources to help patients throughout their journey.
Emergence of Telepsychiatry
Telehealth has taken the world by storm, and medics in different fields are using it to bring services closer to patients. Mental and behavioral health practitioners are also adopting this online solution to remotely provide a range of healthcare services. With the number of people needing support rising steadily, telepsychiatry is offering clinicians some respite without compromising quality or impacting patient satisfaction levels.
Psychiatrists can evaluate, diagnose, advise, schedule appointments, and deliver prescriptions online. Telepsychiatry is now being deployed to treat PTSD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and eating disorders. It’s a great option for patients who can't access psychiatric services because they are unable to travel, take time off work, or live in a rural area. It also improves continuity of care and follow-up, reducing the need for trips to the emergency room.
The Time to Adopt Innovation is Now
The future of healthcare is changing in front of our very eyes, thanks to advances in digital healthcare technologies. Although mental healthcare technology has been lagging up until now, there are signs that this is changing. Big data and new software tools are now allowing mental health practitioners to automate administrative processes, offer services remotely, provide patients with digital recovery tools, monitor patient progress, and improve the clinic’s bottom line.