Digital Health Tech: Force Multiplier for Mental Health
Mental Health Awareness Month 2022
As we close out May 2022 and complete our annual observance of Mental Health Awareness Month, it is essential for the healthcare industry to continue treat one of the most pressing medical issues in America, which is our mental health. We have made progress, but we still have so much more room to grow.
At times, the discussion of mental health and its treatment has been a taboo topic. But the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the American mental health crisis. Previously, mental health was largely treated in-person from psychiatrists and other behavioral therapists. Over time, as digital health technologies have improved, we have seen a vast growth in healthcare’s ability to treat and prevent mental illness. Here are 3 of the most innovative digital health technologies that are helping American mental health today, as well as our insights about what the future of digital health technologies for mental health could have in store.
Preventative care and wearables
From a preventative care perspective, we’ve been very impressed with the growth of tech ‘wearables’. Companies like Oura with the Oura Ring, Apple with the Apple Watch, and WHOOP have successfully achieved mainstream adoption to help people get better insights about the state of their health. Before these companies developed their wearable technology in the last decade or so, in-depth health data was reserved for high-level athletes who wanted to fine-tune performance. Or, for people who were willing to make frequent trips to their healthcare provider. However, with the growth of these companies, millions of people have been able to learn more about their health vitals than ever before. With this new data in hand, they can optimize their sleep, athletic performance, and nutrition, to boost both longevity and quality of life. All of which lead back to better mental health outcomes for patients who learn from the data and can make informed lifestyle improvements.
Mental Health Virtual Care – the next evolution of the virtual care model
The second digital health technology trend that we see improving mental health in America is on-demand healthcare software for people to access at their convenience. Companies like Happify Health and Headspace Health are both household digital companies that help patients improve their mental health on their schedule with guided assistance. The beauty of these companies is creating a scientifically developed treatment protocol that can scale for use by the masses, without requiring a corresponding increase in healthcare professionals to treat the patients. With Happify, patients interact with the platform to create new habits and mental models to reduce anxiety and live a happier life. And with Headspace, users can participate in guided meditation and sleep protocols to optimize mental clarity and recovery during sleep. Before these digital health technologies existed, patients had to guess through trial and error without the knowledge of best practices at their fingertips. Future digital health technology innovation could even integrate this patient data with their primary care provider so that continuity of care is ensured. As we continue to operationalize digital healthcare into scalable code, patients should continue to achieve superior healthcare outcomes.
Improving healthcare with virtual care and therapy
The third digital health trend we’ve seen come online to improve mental health outcomes is the rise of on-demand and telehealth mental health services. In this space, we’ve seen companies like Teladoc providing highly valuable on-demand and fully remote virtual counseling services. Patients can easily connect with a psychiatrist or therapist to help treat mental health issues after filling out a brief assessment about the challenges they are looking to overcome.
These digital health innovations in the mental health treatment space are impactful for a few reasons. First, patients and therapists no longer have to commute to a physical location to meet. Both parties save countless hours. In addition, patients who use video therapy report having higher satisfaction than in-person therapy. Meaning, telehealth therapy is not only more convenient, but it’s more effective for patients.
Providing care to patients on-demand and from anywhere around the world will only help drive better patient outcomes, and it’s a very exciting trend for the future of digital health.
Digital health tech that prioritizes patient experience
Accurate predictions about the future of digital health technologies can be difficult as they become increasingly granular. But when we look at digital health technologies being used to help treat mental health, we believe the market leaders will be those companies who can provide the most convenient and cost-effective treatment. Patients expect to be met where they currently are, and creating a frictionless experience should be the goal of every digital health technology.