On the 11th of May we attended the Digital Solutions for Mental Health event at Hotel Football in Manchester. It was a vibrant day occupied by clinicians and strategists passionate about making a change in the care provided to mental health patients through the use of digital tools.
Opening talk by Dr Richard Hopkins
The day started with a very realistic, but sobering, talk from Dr Richard Hopkins. He took us through a history of using digital tools within the NHS. He described how much technology has changed from playing Snake in our phones to working on our addiction online. And yet, not much has changed in the delivery of care from NHS services. Various factors prevented these new technologies from being effectively implemented in care.
To name a few, Dr Hopkins touched on the need to:
- Better involve clinicians when developing digital solutions
- The need to avoid a fragmentation of healthcare through better integration
- Creating more robust evidence to demonstrate the efficacy of these interventions.
We agree with all of these points, but especially with making sure that we have robust evidence on the solutions that we develop. At Minddistrict, we believe that the backbone of good practice is a strong evidence base. Hence, we aim to continuously update our online platform and digital tools in line with evidence.
In 2013, 32 papers published on Depression Apps, but 1500 apps available! So many apps not evidenced as safe & good quality #MENTALhealth— Kat Jones (@katIjones_) 10 May 2016
10 minutes of inspiration: implementation of online care models in the NHS
Our very own Fennie gave a high-spirited talk on the event. She talked about how new models of care are available with the help of online platforms and how they can allow services to go beyond what they’re already achieving. To do this, she discussed two case studies. A service working with the student population, and one working with marginalised ethnic groups. Taking these two very innovative services, Fennie challenged the audience to think outside the box on how, in their own way, they could start enhancing the care they provide to patients.
Digital tools can extend the reach of traditional care
Overall the day was filled with professionals facing very realistic cuts in the healthcare system. But still equipped with a 'can do' attitude. Clinicians we spoke to were embracing the challenge of enhancing the care they already provide. A general sense that we took away from this day is that digital tools can help extend the reach of traditional care. They can do so in better supporting overworked clinicians, by providing patients with more flexible and intensive care as well as by diversifying the types of care they make available in their services.