New Telehealth Technology Used to Better Employees’ Mental Health

Aug 10, 2016
Tagged with: New Telehealth Technology Used to Better Employees' Mental Health

 

 

Lost workplace productivity in America is costing employers more than $44 billion dollars annually, through things like untreated mental illness like depression. This information has been furnished by the Depression Center at the University of Michigan. In the year 2014 alone, mental health problems and issues were experienced by over 43.6 million Americans who are 18 years of age and older. These staggering reports and statistics show us how Americans in their prime are having many problems related to various mental health issues. There is no question that these reports are of great concern. The good news to report is that all across America an increasing number of employers are turning to electronic mental health services to help remedy the problem.

 

A Telemental Health App Overview

Telemental health (TMH) apps are basically mobile applications that enable users to access the health services they need without necessarily having to visit a doctor’s office. According to a scientific paper by JMIR Mental Health, these apps are created to foster positive mental health, through the promotion of positive coping strategies and emotional self-monitoring. Also, the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry published a study that found TMH apps are, to some extent, beneficial to users. For these apps to be put to use, individuals dealing with mental health issues of any sort, simply follow in-app instructions after they download them to their mobile devices. To help people facing mental health issues, some apps like Koko take the crowdsourcing approach. They also do this with individuals dealing with various depression and stress issues. Self-report questionnaires are included in other TMH apps and contain various closed-end and open-ended questions that users have to answer so that their mental health status can be determined. The answers submitted are then analyzed and then appropriate coping strategies are recommended by the apps, or they refer the users to appropriate mental health specialists.

The California-based business Addepar is taking employee mental health issues very seriously. They have recently purchased access to Ginger.io, which allows their employees to connect with health coaches through the app. In addition, user behavior is tracked by the Ginger.io app and when users fail to text for extended periods or remain indoors, health care workers are alerted. This way they have access to any worsening anxiety, stress or depression signs.

Another organization using telehealth apps is the Sprint Corp., trying to resolve any workplace mental health issues. The apps they use were developed by Castlight Health Inc. and these, similar to Ginger.io, monitor behavior and direct at-risk staff members to the appropriate experts.

Breaches In Privacy

Telemental health apps are certainly of great benefit to the users, but there are some risks of privacy breaches that could be involved in the event of cybercriminals hacking into them. An Epstein Becker Green recent report revealed significant security, privacy, reimbursement, treatment of minors, emergency care, and follow-up care challenges are being faced by telemental healthcare. Those using THM apps should take strong measures to prevent data breaches by using passwords that are very strong, and make certain they keep them very secret. They should also regularly back up their information, monitor their credit reports and avoid any identity theft situations any way they possibly can. They should also scan any devices connected to their mobile devices and PCs, and perform security updates regularly.

Teleheath Technologies Futures

The efficacy of telemental health apps will be greatly improved by the buzz surrounding virtual reality technology. ComPsych’s virtual reality technology is a good example as it simulates a treatment session in the office of a therapist. Talkspace is another great example as this virtual therapy app is put to use by the staff at Laika LLC, an Oregon-based animation studio. This app allows its users to privately communicate via text, audio and video chat with therapists.

 

Telemental health apps are making a big impact for employers and employees alike. By utilizing this technology to monitor patients’ behaviors and provide strategies and advice on how to best cope with the mental health condition they are dealing with, employees across the world will be able to better focus on their professions and better their mental health. Even more important, they will be linked to the mental health practitioners that are right for them. In addition, on the business front, over $6 billion annually can be saved by American employers by leveraging telemedicine services.

What are the benefits you see from this mental health technology? Let me know in the comments below!

To learn more about these telemental health apps: http://www.zurinstitute.com/hipaa-digitalethics-telementalhealth-resources.html#platforms

Author: Sarah Daren



  • bobl07

    This is a great idea! Anytime that communication can be improved between a physician and a person with a disability benefits everyone. Anyway to improve the line of communication through technology and social media is on par with today’s society. I can only imagine how it will be in 5 years.