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Learn more about the use of mHealth technology
in the mental health space

Can mHealth technology be used to save costs ?
Bettina van Wylich-Muxoll

Can mHealth technology be used to save costs ?

According to an article published on Harvard Business Review, digital health tools have the potential to provide effective, low-cost ways to prevent and treat chronic illnesses. The article states that these technology-based solutions that have a clinical impact on disease are comparable to the effectiveness of a drug, and they use consumer-grade technology such as mobile devices and big data analytics that can be deployed in real-time and at scale, which is critical for the management of chronic diseases.

From the chronic diseases, mental illnesses account for five of the ten leading causes of disability worldwide [1]. Therefore, prevention as well as the the early identification and treatment of mental illness represents a high priority since it promotes recovery, independence, self-sufficiency, as well as facilitating social activities and employment opportunities [2].

In fact, in the UK alone, depression and anxiety accounted for 11.7 million lost working days last year [3].  Moreover, according to the American Medical Association, stress accounts for 60% of all human illness and disease [4], which means that clinically-tested health apps can help government authorities, corporations and insurance companies reduce their costs by monitoring individuals remotely and intervening at an early stage.

Nowadays, the majority of large employers that offer health benefits also offer a wellness programme in an effort to promote employee health and productivity as well as to reduce health-related costs.

We live in an era where certified and clinically-tested health apps, or mobile health solutions (as they are widely known), are readily available, or are being developed for most chronic diseases.

Most of these digital tools are extremely easy to use, and can be obtained by downloading an application from iOS or Google Play, signing-up, and sharing your information with a coach. The clear advantages of this technology are scalability and low-cost, since an effective health app bundled up with a telehealth can provide affordable support to either 50 or 5 million users.

The Monsenso mHealth solution can be used by insurance companies and large corporations to reduce costs by offering a preventive mental wellness programme. Individuals can use the Monsenso smartphone app to enter their daily levels of stress, anxiety, irritability, physical activity and number of hours they slept. This information is gathered and stored electronically so it can be accessed by a healthcare professional anytime, anywhere. However, the coach only needs to take action when the web portal indicates that certain individuals present any triggers or warning signs. For example, the coach will be notified when anyone in the system indicates a high level of stress, anxiety and irritability for more than five consecutive days or when someone sleeps less than six hours for more than three consecutive days. These two actions would be considered indicators that the individual needs to be contacted for a “wellness check” and implement the necessary measures to prevent the person from going on stress-leave or from becoming affected by other physical conditions such as heart disease.

References:

[1] Prevention of Mental Disorders. Effective Interventions and policy options. World Health Organisation in collaboration with the Prevention Research Centre of the Universities of Nimegen and Maastricht. http://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/en/prevention_of_mental_disorders_sr.pdf

[2] Early intervention and recovery for young people with early psychosis: consensus statement. J. Bertolote and P. McGorry. British Journal of Psychiatry (2005). http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/bjprcpsych/187/48/s116.full.pdf

[3] Stress in the City: ‘At first, I thought my depression was a heart attack’. The Telegraph. Peter Stanford. (2017, January 7)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/health/stress-city-first-thought-depression-heart-attack/

[4] How Stress Affects the Body (INFOGRAPHIC). Huffington Post. (2013, January 10)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heartmath-llc/how-stress-affects-the-body_b_2422522.html

Simple Digital Technologies Can Reduce Health Care Costs.
Harvard Business Review. Alexander L. Fogel, Joseph C. Kvedar. (2016, November 14).
https://hbr.org/2016/11/simple-digital-technologies-can-reduce-health-care-costs