The Impact of Technology-Enabled Care Coordination in Mental Health  

Nalaka Withanage Digital Health, Healthcare Digital Transformation

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Mental disorders account for 13% of the global disease burden, and major depression alone is expected to be the largest contributor by 2030. Projections estimate that depression alone will account for one-third of total non-communicable healthcare costs, estimated to be $11 in 2019-20,

Fortunately, technology may offer solutions in terms of prevention, cost reduction and enhanced care. New innovations are assisting mental health service providers across multiple dimensions, improving interoperability and cutting costs.

Prevention and early identification

For instance, technology is already moving into the realm of prevention and early identification. Patient portals, for instance, offer tools that help patients self-treat through a variety of techniques. Many also integrate with biometrics and link to healthcare practitioners, recording physical parameters related to mental health status.

Passive symptom tracking and data collection apps are also being developed to identify early signs of clinically-significant mental health issues, such as depression and psychosis. Apps collect patient information and then alert caregivers of potential, impending mental health episodes.

Care Planning and Coordination

In the past, mental health care planning and coordination were haphazard. Care providers rarely adopted standardised care pathways to identify appropriate sequences of actions for better client outcomes.

However, new digital planning tools, such as DC2Vue®, are changing that. Healthcare service providers are now able to deliver high-quality, coordinated care from a single dashboard, dramatically improving client administration. Finances, rostering, assessment and care planning are all managed centrally.

Outcome measures and hospital process measures

Hospitals and clinics also need tools that let them evaluate the quality of their mental healthcare processes to enable continuous improvement. Modern technology can improve documentation and feedback systems, allowing healthcare practitioners to collect actionable data they can use to improve patient care.

For instance, DC2Vue® improves communication between multidisciplinary care teams. It also enhances operational performance by including “one patient-one view” timelines, discharge summaries, and integrated patient communication tools.

Community and home-based across all levels of intervention

Mental health patients want to be able to move fluidly between community and home-based care, regardless of the intensity of their symptoms. Connecting together all the moving parts of modern healthcare systems, though, is tricky. There is a risk that systems lose track of patients.

DC2Vue® resolves this issue by connecting care via a single platform. The system empowers practitioners to provide the “right care at the right time”. People get assistance when they need it most, regardless of their current treatment and monitoring arrangements.

Community Mental Health Centres

Community mental health centres are a critical part of mental healthcare infrastructure. New technology is facilitating the emergence of more effective team-based care, improving operational efficiencies and automating statutory reporting requirements.

Mental health clinic software, for instance, is making it possible to establish standardised care pathways and identify an appropriate sequence of actions, depending on the patient and their funding source. Smart scheduling makes it easy to determine availability, while automatic billing and statutory reporting are cutting administration costs.

Continuity of care across services

Continuity of care is becoming an increasingly important issue for hospitals. Growing specialisation among healthcare providers means that patients require a team of professionals to meet their health goals.

Care continuity is critical to ensure the best patient experience, but it becomes more challenging as care teams expand.

Mobile solutions, however, may offer a solution. Care providers, for example, are experimenting with role-based messaging. Thus, instead of communicating with a specific person, they approach a specialist, role-based chat group, eliminating problems associated with people clocking off shifts or failing to communicate directly with each other.

Interoperability of systems

The importance of the interoperability of systems across health services and sectors is highlighted in the National Mental Health Commission’s Vision 2030: Blueprint for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. Healthcare providers need to develop mechanisms for real-time information sharing both within and across sectors.

Again, solutions such as DC2Vue®, can help. Platforms furnish interoperable data for use in multidisciplinary care contexts, smoothing processes while also enhancing the patient experience. Cloud-based software enables practitioners to work across systems on any device via a powerful, user-centric design.

Enhanced community treatment teams for moderate to high-intensity care requirements

Vision 2030 also calls for each mental health patient to receive “individualised care planned and delivered through community-based services across the spectrum.” Part of this involves developing services to enhance community treatment options for patients with moderate-to-high-intensity needs and helping to rapidly deescalate care intensity as their symptoms abate.

DC2Vue® enables team-based care while providing a single client view panel, showing timeframes, goals and sequences of actions. Multiple practitioners can manage a single patient from a shared panel.

Data and information sharing

Sharing patients’ electronic medical records is fraught with risks. The legal consequences of handling mental health EMR incorrectly are severe. However, it is also necessary for practitioners who want to address mental health issues.

Again, modern technology can help. DC2Vue® tames increasingly complex administrative tasks, allowing smoother, more compliant patient information flows while maintaining federal and state reporting requirements. Having a complete electronic client record enables a more holistic understanding of the patients’ mental health trajectory and context.

Navigation, referral, discharge summary and pathways

Balanced community-based care approaches focus on care that links primary hospital care with allied health and social services. However, keeping track of patient journeys is challenging, particularly for disparate teams of healthcare practitioners. Here, again, DC2Vue® can help. Patient navigation, referral and discharge pathways can all be coordinated from a single digital workspace.

Collaborative approach

The Australian government is seeking a collaborative approach to mental health and suicide prevention that is “person-centred, holistic and designed and delivered at a local level.” Reducing the incidence and prevalence of mental illness requires joined-up efforts across sectors.

DC2Vue® makes team collaboration and care coordination a breeze. Healthcare practitioners can work together in a single workspace, designing timeframes, goals and expected outcomes for individual patients in their care.

Balanced approach to tertiary clinical care

Lastly, mental health software enables practitioners to take a balanced approach to tertiary clinical care. Solutions help to simplify often complex medical care over an extended period using procedures offered by medical specialists or state-of-the-art technology. Tracking patients through their care journey allows practitioners to make contextually-sensitive decisions before making treatment recommendations.