Improving mental health outcomes with digital technologies


During the mental health panel of the HIMSS21 APAC conference, Bruce Steinberg, Managing Director and Executive Vice President of HIMSS UK, spoke with Daniel Fung, CEO of the Institute of Mental Health in Singapore, who shared his thoughts on the role of digital health in mental health. The session also featured demonstrations of the Emotion AI software by Opsis CEO Andrew Ow and the Intellect mental health mobile app by CEO Theodoric Chew, two examples of digital health innovations that aim to solve pressing problems. mental health and improve outcomes.

Fung spoke about the use of digital tools to deal with mental illness and mental health issues – the first which is a disease that affects certain parts of the population and the second which is motivated by stress and, in the case present, induced by a pandemic. “But we also have mental health and mental illness issues among the adult working population and the elderly,” Fung pointed out, referring to people who are digital migrants or refugees who are not tech savvy.

It is not clear at this time if there is a pull with digital tools for mental health, although the younger population, which is typically affected by the onset of mental illness, is quite adept. to use modern technologies. “They were born digital and they’re pretty comfortable,” Fung noted. Additionally, with a number of mental health apps available, people tend to “give up” their use, “unless there are motivators” to continue using them. “Traction always depends on the level of comfort as well as its convenience,” he said.

But Fung differentiated these online tools from “digital mental health systems that, along with illnesses, improve surveillance or deliver interventions.” For example, Singapore’s forthcoming online portal for mental health resources, a project of the Health Promotion Board, would primarily target the overall mental health of the general population. It’s more about awareness, mental health literacy, mental health promotion and mental illness prevention through education.

For him, there must be rules that the doctor and the patient will follow. Clinicians, he said, must also undergo training to perform remote consultations. Currently, the Singapore Ministry of Health is launching initiatives to standardize online consultations with doctors. “Maybe could be better than a traditional face-to-face consultation,” Fung commented. By maintaining engagement with mental health patients through telehealth platforms, Fung said healthcare providers need to change the way they connect with patients, citing examples such as patients who have requested consultations in line at the restaurant or behind the wheel of a car.

The HIMSS21 APAC conference took place on October 18-19. All sessions are available on demand by registering here. If you are already registered, go here.

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