The 3 key challenges of digital mental healthcare (2023)
Mental healthcare has become an important topic, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, despite the growing importance of mental healthcare, many people still face mental issues due to a shortage of healthcare personnel (1) and access to mental healthcare. This is where digital mental healthcare platforms come into play, offering accessibility and flexibility, as well as comfort to patients.
However, there are some critical challenges in digital mental healthcare… Potential threats in the worldwide success and adoption of mental healthcare platforms or apps and other digital CBT tools. In this blog post, we define the 3 key challenges of digital mental healthcare as a result of a global market research. Finally, we discuss how IntelliProve provides a solution to personalized mental healthcare.
Digital transformation in mental healthcare
The World Health Organization (WHO) raises the alarm: depression is one of the leading causes of disability! Additionally, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds. People with severe mental health conditions die prematurely – as much as two decades early – due to preventable physical conditions (2).
Many mental conditions can be effectively treated at relatively low cost. While medication is traditionally considered a potential way to address stress, anxiety and insomnia, it is associated with several side-effects, risk of overmedication. Additionally, medication is a potential target for misuse and lack of addressing underlying issues.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a clear example of a mental healthcare solution that is demonstrated to be as effective as, or more effective than, other forms of psychological therapy or psychiatric medications (3). In short, CBT is a talking therapy that can help the patient manage problems by changing the way of thinking and behaving. It’s most used to treat anxiety and depression, but can also be useful for other mental and physical health problems.
Despite CBT being an effective therapy at relatively low cost, the gap between people needing care and those with access to care remains substantial…
In the last couple of years, a range of digital mental health interventions entered the field to close the gap between patients and mental healthcare. Digital mental healthcare refers to programs that deliver psychological strategies and interventions via online and/or mobile platforms. Especially in cases where in-person therapy is cost-prohibitive or inconvenient for clients, digital CBT can be a valuable way to receive professional, science-based treatment in a much more accessible format.
In most of the cases, the therapy is available on apps and software-based solutions and can be accessed on a computer, tablet or smartphone. Clear examples of digital CBT are virtual reality, telemedicine, online exercises and e-learnings.
There are many advantages to digital mental healthcare.
- It provides a more comfortable and less intimidating environment for people who may be hesitant to seek in-person therapy.
- It allows people to access mental health services without having to leave their home. This can be especially helpful for those with physical disabilities or limited mobility who may not be able to travel to a therapist’s office.
- Digital mental healthcare can be more affordable than traditional therapy, as it eliminates the cost of travel and appointments.
- Finally, digital mental healthcare can also be beneficial for those who need more flexibility in their treatment. Online therapy allows people to access mental health services from any location and at any time.
However, some major challenges remain in the field…
Challenges during digital mental healthcare
Based on market research and analysis of over 500 online mental healthcare solutions, we were able to identify 3 key challenges. It is anticipated that these challenges will be crucial in the worldwide success and adoption of mental healthcare platforms or apps and other digital cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) tools. These key challenges were identified as a top priority by potential users when deciding which platform to go for.
- Quality of the content
Offer science-backed, evidence-based and clinically validated content. The offered solutions fit clinicians’ workflows and is tailored to the specific needs of patients.
- Guidance of the user
Research has shown that software-based mental health solutions that include (human) support are often more effective than self-guided or automated treatments (4).
Adaptation of the content (exercises, videos, blogs, telehealth,…) according to the user. This is crucial to increase the efficacy and engagement during the patient journey.
To summarize, these three challenges are key in order to guide the user in a fully personalized way through a variety of qualitative digital mental healthcare solutions.
However, the current situation is surprising…
Mental healthcare therapy personalization and guidance is currently performed through subjective and limited questionnaires (73%) and/or mental health check-ins through emoticons (61%). Moreover, 19% of the online mental healthcare solutions do not even personalize the user journey. Market research has shown that users would benefit from a more interpretable and objective look into their mental health status during their journey. Mental healthcare platforms should be able to hyper-personalize its digital therapy by meaningful mental biomarkers and insights.
This is where IntelliProve comes into place. We anticipate on the urgent need of a smart mental health assessment tool to kick-off and guide digital CBT.
Mental health assessment through face analysis
IntelliProve is a software tool that assesses mental health status based on facial analysis. It offers a smart mental health assessment tool to guide digital CBT, without the need for any specialized medical hardware, wearable or sensor. Consequently, it is a unique and powerful solution that addresses the challenges of digital mental healthcare by providing hyper-personalized care to patients.
IntelliProve gives mental healthcare platforms the possibility to embed meaningful mental biomarkers and insights into their app/dashboard/platform. Examples of these biomarkers are heart rate variability, heart rate, respiration rate, acute mental stress score, morning readiness, mental health risk and more. The smart face scan of IntelliProve (less then 30 seconds) contributes to accessible and preventive healthcare by providing a ‘digital biopsy’.
The IntelliProve processing engine uses advanced remote PPG-based heart rate variability (HRV) measurement techniques and facial micro expression patterns for mental well-being and health assessment. The optical technology is a combination of years of targeted R&D and more than 40,000 data points. In-depth, meaningful insights are extracted from an accessible phone/tablet/PC camera.
Whereas conventional measurement of mental health resilience is based on subjective reports, the IntelliProve engine provides an extra layer of objective biological and physiological biomarkers. Consequently, mental healthcare solutions are able to adapt and hyper-personalize their content (exercises, videos, blogs, telehealth) according to the user. This is crucial to increase the efficacy and engagement during the patient journey.
Digital mental healthcare is the future, and it is crucial to address the challenges that come with it. Our market research revealed that the majority of the current mental healthcare apps and platforms use limited surveys and emoticons to personalize the content of their digital solution. 1 out of 5 platforms do not even personalize the user journey.
Time to fill this gap!
IntelliProve is a unique and powerful solution that measures mental health through face analysis. Curious to experience the technology? Request your free access key and perform five mental health checks through face analysis! Visit our demo request page!
(1) OECD Health Statistics 2018
(2) World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/health-topics/mental-health#tab=tab_1
(3) Hofmann, S. G., Asnaani, A., Vonk, I. J. J. & Sawyer, A. T. The efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy: a review of meta-analyses. Cognit. Ther. Res. 36, 427–440 (2012).
(4) Karyotaki, E. et al. Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy for depression: a systematic review and individual patient data network meta-analysis. JAMA Psychiatry (2021).