Mental health care goes digital

Patients can now sign up online to trial a digital system which has potential to change the way Australia’s mental health care system operates.

The AI(Actionable Intime Insights) software has been developed by a team of researchers in digital psychiatry at Flinders University, and offers real-time digital updates on patient status to clinicians.

The software also identifies patterns that represent when a patient may be at risk of relapse and hospitalisation – and these insights can help patients access appropriate care in the community and prevent hospitalisations.

Now in a 24 month trial phase, patients can nominate themselves to take part, and mental health professionals are also able to participate. Both groups can sign up to use AI2 by visiting the website www.aisquared.co

Associate Professor Niranjan Bidargaddi, left, with the project chief investigator Dr Jorg Strobel, psychiatrist Dr Geoff Schrader and research associate Dr Alissa Knight.

The project, led by Flinders’ Associate Professor Niranjan Bidargaddi in collaboration with the Department of State Development and Data to Decisions Cooperative Research Centre, aims to revolutionise the approach to treating mental illnesses outside hospital, using digital applications and internet technologies.

In Australia approximately 600,000 people are living with a chronic mental disorder. The current way of monitoring, managing and treating chronic mental illness is inadequate.

Patients seek initial consultations with a clinician for a problem they are experiencing. They may be provided with a diagnosis, a healthcare plan for treatment, and then sent off with the expectation that they will comply with treatment instructions such as taking medication and therapeutic techniques.

“Most clinicians do not have the resources to manually keep track of every patient, which can lead to a relapse and hospitalisation. AISquared offers an effective digital alternative to monitor patients, delivering data in real time,” Associate Professor Bidargaddi says.

The app pulls and stores consented patients’ Medicare Benefit Scheme (MBS) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) data, such as medication prescriptions, from My Health Records into the AISquared infrastructure.

From there it, it uses machine learning algorithms to continuously monitor key parameters of patients’ mental health within the data.

As a recipient of a $179,118 Medical Research Future Fund Translating Research into Practice (TRIP) Fellowship from the Australian Government, Associate Professor Bidargaddi will continue to enhance the capacity of mental health services to review, personalise and intervene early through implementation of real-time outcome monitoring in 2018.

The AISquare project has begun its pilot program and will run until October 2019.

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