The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges that many industries are still facing to this day. While the crisis has brought along several unfortunate consequences, revolutionary technology has changed the landscape across a few industries.
In fact, the sudden shift to the digital realm has stabilized the usage of telehealth, which has seen a 38 times increase in usage since before the global pandemic. The upward usage of telehealth has made it easier and simpler for patients to receive proper care, creating a positive future for the health industry.
Consequently, the rise in telehealth within the health industry has mobilized the conversation of mental health, providing patients an opportunity to seek the best treatment that works for them.
Pushing the Discussion of Mental Health: An Overview
Speaking up about mental illness has often been stigmatized in society. In other words, it’s a topic that many people fear talking about.
And that’s a result of the lack of resources available for people to begin these conversations.
In fact, in the United States, 45% of individuals with a clinical-level mental problem do not seek professional help. This can lead to several life-threatening problems, such as panic attacks, depression, heart attacks, and sometimes even death.
Furthermore, the sudden shift to remote work has displayed the importance of the conversation of mental health. 70% of professionals who transitioned to remote work because of the pandemic stated they now work on the weekends, and 45% of the people surveyed said they also work longer hours. These long working hours, paired with the inability to disconnect from work, have caused more feelings of isolation and burnout, which can lead to even more severe health concerns.
It’s become more apparent that discussions of mental health have become a necessity. New attitudes in how society thinks have started providing people the push they need to speak up about mental illness. Telehealth is allowing this to become a reality.
Telehealth eliminates the limitations that exist with in-person visits. It provides communities that lack medical professionals to provide care to patients, practically anywhere they are in the world and at any time they desire.
To put it into perspective, a survey conducted by Price Waterhouse-Cooper found that 72 percent of respondents between ages 18 and 44 were willing to receive mental health treatment via telehealth instead of face-to-face.
The usage of telehealth has revolutionized the health industry, destigmatizing the fear associated with mental health and providing everyone the opportunity to begin speaking up about mental illness.
Pushing the Discussion of Mental Health: Understanding Telehealth
At its core essence, telehealth is providing medical care through online means; it can be synchronous, asynchronous, or through remote monitoring and each method provides the patient the opportunity to speak up about mental illness.
Synchronous telehealth, where most mental health treatment is conducted, includes real-time telephone or live audio and video interaction. Through this method, the patient can openly discuss his or her medical concerns with the consulting medical provider in real-time.
Telehealth through asynchronous means includes “store and forward” technology – the patient can record their message prior, upload it to the medical provider’s portal, which the medical professional can review later. This method allows the patient to communicate directly and securely with the medical provider.
Remote Patient Monitoring
Remote patient monitoring allows for a direct transmission of the patient’s clinical measurements and may or may not be conducted in real-time.
These three modalities of telehealth provide patients with a smooth and simple way to communicate directly with their medical providers. Each modality has its own advantages and disadvantages; the flexibility in each method provides patients the resources they need and is building the bridge between telehealth and mental health.
Pushing the Discussion of Mental Health: What’s Next?
New modern technologies have paved the way for medicine, providing new forms of care while destigmatizing the fear associated with mental health. Bridging the gap between the digital realm and the physical world, telehealth has revamped the entire landscape in the health industry and it is expected to stay.
Now, many companies have realized the importance of mental health and have joined the conversation on mental health. For instance, Beam Health's CEO recently opened up about his struggles with mental health and the company made telehealth available for free to small and mid-sized mental health clinics.
Moving forward, more startups are joining the conversation and have started to create innovative solutions that push the discussion forward and raise awareness on this topic, allowing everyone to have equal opportunity in speaking up about mental illness. Fortunately, we can expect to see more positive changes in the mental health field in the upcoming years.
Pushing the Discussion of Mental Health: Startup Feature
Among the startups who joined the conversation of mental health, Ooca stands out as Thailand's first mental health app.
Based in Thailand, the pre-series A startup Telemedica Co., Ltd. (also known as Ooca) is an online mental health platform that provides anonymous counseling services via video conferencing with mental health professionals (both psychiatrists and psychologists).
Ooca improves access to mental wellness in the workplace using technology, with three key features:
Counseling — A robust evidence base that shows telepsychiatry leading to improved outcomes and higher patient satisfaction.
Professional Counselor — A team of psychiatrists and psychologists who are always willing to comfort and go through the journey with you.
Stress Test — Designed to help you understand your situation and handle your stress.
"Mental wellness is an important matter to all of us. (It) affects more than 10 million Thais and every 1 out 4 people around the world while most of the common obstacle is the lack of access to mental health professionals and stigma." Dr. Kanpassorn Suriyasangpetch, CEO & Founder of Ooca, explains.
Previously a patient for depression, Dr, Kanpassorn found difficulties in seeking help, such as taking months to book appointments or having to travel long distances to meet a psychiatrist. Hence, she decided to address the problem of inaccessbility and stigma around mental health through technology.
"Ooca not only helps users connect to the largest pool of mental health providers in Thailand but also helps shape the mental health ecosystem and improve opportunities for providers. We are excited to be a part of Plug & Play to enhance our ecosystem and bring equality to quality mental wellness care to the regional level."
Article written by Brad Culver (Beam Health) & Jacky Tsang.
To read the original article, click here.
Ooca is part of Plug and Play's Smart Cities Batch 5 Accelerator program.
To find out more about the program, click here.
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