Over the previous two years, managed care group Kaiser Permanente has been testing give its members entry to digital well being instruments. The corporate picked six apps that it could cowl for its members, and educated clinicians on embrace the usage of digital well being apps of their workflow.
One of many challenges is making these instruments simple to search out, and getting sufferers to make use of them. In a lately printed paper in NEJM Catalyst, Kaiser discovered that sufferers had been extra probably to make use of well being apps after being referred. Up to now, its clinicians have made 115,000 referrals.
“We predict we’ve cracked the code and discovered get individuals to make use of these, within the context of therapy in order that they may have their greatest impact,” Dr. Don Mordecai, nationwide chief for psychological well being and wellness at Kaiser Permanente, mentioned in a cellphone interview.
In early testing, a bunch of 562 clinicians in Kaiser’s psychological heath and despair care applications referred 16,438 sufferers to psychological well being apps. Of that group, 58% downloaded an app, 40% used it a minimum of as soon as and 27% used an app greater than 3 times.
Mordecai mentioned digital well being instruments might function an adjunct to therapy, resembling in between remedy periods. Or, individuals might select to entry them on their very own time.
Kaiser Permanente chosen six apps for this program:
- Headspace, a well-liked meditation app that has raised greater than $200 million thus far
- Calm, one other well-known sleep and meditation app that lately raised $75 million
- Whil, an app that provides programs on stress resilience and mindfulness for companies
- Cognitive behavioral remedy app myStrength, which was acquired by Livongo final yr
- SilverCloud, a startup that provides psychological well being applications paired with teaching. It has raised greater than $26 million thus far.
- Thrive, an app with cognitive behavioral remedy instruments and temper monitoring.
To slim down the checklist of prospects, Kaiser Permanente introduced in a whole lot of sufferers and clinicians to assist assess and check these apps. It additionally thought of whether or not they had been based mostly on scientific proof and had been HIPAA-compliant.
“Completely, points like privateness got here into the query,” Mordecai mentioned. “There are apps on the market the place their enterprise mannequin is to collect and promote your knowledge. That was of zero curiosity to us.”
There was additionally an emphasis on consumer expertise — whether or not the apps had been really gratifying and straightforward to make use of.
“We’ve been having conversations with digital corporations for years, however I believe it wanted to succeed in a sure stage of maturity,” Mordecai mentioned. “The primary spherical of those sorts of issues, like computerized CBT, one of many causes that individuals didn’t use them that a lot was that they had been type of clunky. … What we’ve seen over the previous 5 years or so is an actual evolution of those apps by way of a compelling consumer expertise and by way of individuals’s willingness to interact with them.”
Constructing an ecosystem
Kaiser Permanente got down to start constructing this digital well being “ecosystem” in 2018. The concept was to construct a platform the place clinicians might refer sufferers to a curated portfolio of apps and doc it in a affected person’s well being file. It started extra broadly rolling this out to its members in 2020.
Lately, the managed care group has confronted its personal challenges with psychological well being therapy. Three yr in the past, Kaiser Permanente confronted state sanctions after sufferers reported lengthy wait instances for psychological well being therapy. Final yr, the corporate touted hiring greater than 1,000 therapists, however psychological well being employees and sufferers mentioned they nonetheless struggled with well timed entry to care.
The Covid-19 pandemic was anticipated to exacerbate present issues with accessing psychological healthcare throughout the U.S. Telehealth visits have helped bridge what would in any other case be drop-off in care, however nonetheless haven’t solved a few of the root points.
Initially, like different healthcare suppliers, Kaiser noticed demand for visits drop as individuals sheltered in place, but it surely shortly recovered as extra individuals turned to telehealth appointments.
“I believe, in some sense, the wave remains to be coming,” Mordecai mentioned. “I believe we’re going to be grappling with the impression of this for some time after the virus menace is diminished.”
Picture Credit score: Saimon Sailent, Getty Pictures