Columbus, Ohio—A recent study of mental health clinicians shows that 73% would find mobile apps useful in their practice1. The participants were primarily interested in apps that would collect and aggregate data between visits. In addition, 68% agreed that integrating additional data into the treatment process would improve the mental health clinical profession as a whole1.
In the mental health field specifically, it’s difficult to quantify patient outcome. To evaluate the status of health, clinicians look at quality of life/wellbeing, cognitive/emotional health, behavior, physical health, and social/interpersonal satisfaction2. Most of these metrics are qualitative and highly dependent on the feedback and perception of the patient.
This is precisely why a mobile app that captures patient data is so interesting to nearly ¾ of mental health professionals.
Finally, a Baseline
Many patient monitoring tools track hard data: heart rate, # of steps per day, caloric intake to name a few. Apps crunch the numbers to display charts, graphs, and give us a view of performance over time. The same can be done with soft data—in this case, patient feedback. There are some clever user interface designs that leverage elements like colors, emoticons, and sliding scales to track moods, feelings, and overall well-being. By collecting qualitative input in a quantitative way, we can provide mental health professionals with the same charts and graphs that we see used in patient monitoring tools that can ultimately provide a baseline for care.
Longitudinal data is a dataset that tracks the same type of information on the same subjects at multiple points in time. This is important to healthcare professionals because it gives them trendlines. For example, if a provider can see that a patient consistently records low values between 2-5pm, it may prompt them to recommend an increased dosage or an alternate medication schedule. This is a direct correlation to patient outcome.
The formula of turning qualitative input into quantitative output is certainly not limited to mental health. Almost every aspect of healthcare has a qualitative component. As providers become more open to digital patient tools, healthcare innovators are better able to deliver something with real value: a clearer picture of the patient’s outcome.