How is technology benefiting mental health care?

Thursday 21 May 2015
Reading Time: 3 minutes

A recent study carried out by the University of Sheffield’s Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare (CATCH) has discovered that currently one in four individuals within the U.K each year will suffer from some form of mental illness – including depression, anxiety, drug / alcohol addiction, or eating disorders.

Since 2010 there has been an 8% reduction in real terms of spending on mental health which is approximately £600 million. Throughout this period the referrals to community mental health teams rose by 20%, as patients are being diagnosed with increasingly complex mental health conditions. This month has seen the introduction of a new Conservative government, who have pledged to spend £8bn on the NHS as a whole; though it is still unknown how mental health trusts will fair financially in the next five years, making this a period of uncertainty.

The research carried out by CATCH also brought to light that currently 75% of those who experience symptoms relating to anxiety and depression receive no treatment; however the group has suggested that a change in the use of technology within healthcare may be able to improve not only the access to treatment but also the quality of care provided.

It has been argued that many of these problems stem from the way the NHS is currently set up. Most mental health services are only offered from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, generally in a traditional healthcare setting, meaning many sufferers are unable to access the care required or may find seeking treatment an extremely stressful process. This links back to the latest pledge by U.K Prime minister David Cameron for England to be the first country in the world to deliver a truly seven-day NHS in which patients will have access to GP’s seven days a week. However this plan has come under much scrutiny.

In recent years the NHS has seen groups of innovative leaders, clinicians and patients come together to share ideas and develop new tools. An article written by Dr James Woollard – Clinical Leadership Fellow with the National Clinical Director for Mental Health at NHS England, Dr Geraldine Strathdee – discusses how technology can “embed and enhance the collaborative, community and patient centred approach that services can deliver when they are at their best.”

Amongst other technologies such as E-prescribing and Mobile Apps, many mental health trusts have made the decision to implement Business Intelligence technologies in order to deal with the ever expanding amount of patient data they collect. It has become increasingly important within all aspects of healthcare to not only collect data but to ensure this data can be turned into actionable information and deeper insight, allowing trusts to make more informed decisions and therefore enhancing quality of care.

By implementing a B.I solution a trust is able to much more easily identify whether KPIs and targets have been achieved and with the power of automatically triggered ‘alerts’ (to either your desktop or mobile) an organisation can be assured that any incidents or issues are dealt with quicker than ever before.

Dashboard functionality is a key element of a BI tool, and with the use of Dashboards, healthcare professionals may bring various elements of reports together into one place, and make the information available to the senior managers and directors of an organisation.

With the use of a Business Intelligence solution such as CXAIR by Connexica a trust is able to join up various data sources with or without the requirement of a Data Warehouse. Therefore, information such as patient journeys, incident reports and treatment plans can be viewed in one single web-based interface.

2015 is the start of a major shift in the NHS and health organisations in the U.K, and with mental health becoming a key focus it is more important than ever to utilise the most intuitive and cost saving technologies available.

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