Leveraging Technology In Community-Based Service Settings

Executive Briefing | by | November 15, 2016

Athena Mandros
Athena Mandros

Changes in consumer preferences for convenience coupled with payer desire to reduce costs has led to an increased use of community-based care technologies in the past couple of years (see Making The “Community-Based” Concept Work and When Choosing Treatment Technologies, Leverage The Low-Cost Options). With that move, there is an increased need for technology to help manage consumers and better coordinate care in community-based settings. Technology can provide the data and analytics to inform decisionmaking, aid consumers outside of treatment, and improve care coordination. Different types of technology include wearables, remote monitoring, smartphone applications, text message alerts, robots, online therapy, and smart home technologies.

But choosing the right technology to support community-based service delivery for your organization and the consumers you serve is crucial to your strategy. During The 2016 OPEN MINDS Technology & Informatics Institute session, The Future Of Behavioral Health Care: How Technology Is Enabling Community-Based Treatment, featuring Robert Cuyler, Ph.D., Chief Clinical Officer at Palo Alto Health Sciences; and Lori Ann Rizzuto, LCSW, Director, Behavioral and Integrative Health Services for Atlantic Health System, we heard two great case studies of how new technologies are being deployed in the community.

Ms. Rizzuto

Ms. Rizzuto

Ms. Rizzuto presented her work at Atlantic Health System with the technology, myStrength, an interactive web and mobile platform with clinically-based health and wellness resources focused on individuals with behavioral disorders. Atlantic Health System is a New Jersey-based non-profit health care system, which operates six hospitals and more than 600 community-based provider organizations throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The health system offers a full range of physical and behavioral health care services and is part of the Atlantic Accountable Care Organization. In total, the organization provides over 1.1 million total outpatient visits and more than 42,400 behavioral health outpatient visits annually.

The myStrength platform includes step-by-step online e-learning modules for people with depression, anxiety, and substance use disorder, through interactive tools, individualized action plans, and daily inspirations. Ms. Rizzuto’s organization uses the app in all settings across the Atlantic Health System, including inpatient care, emergency department crisis intervention, and outpatient clinics. Each care setting uses the tools available in slightly different ways. For example, consumers in community-based care use the platform between visits both as an aid and to complete “homework” assigned by their clinical professionals. The clinical professional can review work completed on the app and use it to engage consumers during their sessions.

Dr. Cuyler

Dr. Cuyler

Dr. Cuyler presented his work with Freespira, an at-home therapy device with a connected app that trains individuals diagnosed with panic disorders to adjust their breathing to control and normalize their respiratory patterns, including the key variable: exhaled carbon dioxide (EtCO2) levels. Consumers breathe into the device in sync with a rising and falling audio tone. They can see their EtCO2 levels in real time on a web-based application. Consumers use the device twice a day for 17 minutes over the course of a month.

Dr. Cuyler explained that panic disorder (PD) is associated with very high utilization of medical resources and dollars. It affects roughly 2.7% of the population, part of the 27 million Americans a year who will have a panic attack. For Dr. Cuyler, Freespira has many benefits, such as high patient engagement and the ability to check results at any time. Most consumers experience benefits within one week, which helps to fuel their continual engagement with the program. The device’s program also collects data on each consumer session and sends it to their clinical professional. As a result, the clinical professionals can address problems and adherence almost immediately. After using the device consumers saw a significant drop in their Panic Disorder Severity Scale (PDSS) score compared to the control group and those results lasted for at least a year. (For more from OPEN MINDS about Dr. Cuyler’s work, check out Using Technology To Treat Panic Attacks: An Interview With Robert Cuyler, Ph.D.)

For organizations planning to invest in technology to support community-based care, the panelists had a few recommendations:

  1. Involve staff in the process early: Don’t wait until the last minute to involve your staff in the implementation process. Ms. Rizzuto noted that she would have gotten direct clinical staff involved early in the process. They were actually less resistant to change than middle managers and coordinators. The direct clinical staff were also best equipped to embed the app into the care process and understand how it could be used.
  2. Train staff together: You might be inclined to train staff separately, but experience has shown that it is beneficial to train staff as a group. There will be staff members with all different levels of technology experience and they may be using the technology in different ways. When they are trained together, they can assist one another and work together more effectively when technology problems do arise.
  3. Cultural fit: It is imperative that the technology is a fit for your organization and advances its mission. Otherwise staff will be less likely to utilize the technology and ensure that consumers are engaged and interested in the technology. Take the time initially to make sure solutions align with your organizational strategy, and then make sure that your staff understand why and how the technology benefits your mission.

For more great resources on emerging tech from the OPEN MINDS Industry Library, check out:

  1. The Wild West Of Digital Medicine
  2. The Emerging Group Of ‘Active’ Consumer Technologies
  3. Planning Your Treatment Tech Investment
  4. What Is ‘Blockchain’ & What Will It Mean For Your Tech Strategy?
  5. Your Insights For Tech Management & Strategy

If you couldn’t join us in person last week, check out our archived event coverage on Twitter @openmindscircle#OMTechnology. And stay tuned in the coming weeks as we take an in-depth look at our sessions from The 2016 OPEN MINDS Technology & Informatics Institute. And for more, join the OPEN MINDS team at The OPEN MINDS Strategy & Innovation Institute for the session, The Shift From Residential: Keeping Up With The Changing Addiction Treatment Landscape.



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