Digital health support for mental illness

The first use of the national My Health Record to promote more robust safeguards for self-management of serious mental illness is being rolled out in South Australia.

Commencing with a community mental health clinic in Gawler, with support from local psychiatrists, patients in the Barossa Hills and Fleurieu Local Health Network will be the first to trial the AI2 software program developed by digital health experts at Flinders University.

“It adds value to the usual care as it will promote more timely communication, and support for people in their treatment needs, remembering appointments with their GPs and their medication, and occasional extra help with their condition,” says senior consultant psychiatrist Dr Jörg Strobel, based at SA Country Health’s Barossa Hills Fleurieu Local Health Network clinic. “We see it as a vital safety net for people living in the local community,” he says.

The Flinders University Digital Psychiatry and Personal Informatics Team describes the ‘AI2 ‘ program (Actionable Intime Insights, or ‘AI-Squared’) is a powerful e-health solution that compares Medicare data from My Health Record against standard care plans to allow clinicians to intervene early to prevent relapse and hospitalisation.

“It will help keep consumers connected with their case managers and other healthcare professionals when they transition from care back into the community,” says Associate Professor Niranjan Bidargaddi, from Flinders Digital Health Centre. “There is currently little visibility of care across State and federal health care,” he says.

“Our health-care systems rely on the consumer to follow their care plans and to recognise when they are not well and make an appointment but many people can fall through the cracks,  particularly if they do not have a support network to avoid the traumatic experience of relapse and hospitalisation.”

Flinders University Associate Professor of Personal Health Informatics Niranjan Bidargaddi and Country Health SA psychiatrist Dr Jörg Strobel, front, with members of the AI-Squared development team (left to right) Lydia Oakey-Neate, Yang Yang, Associate Professor Geoffrey Schrader, Dr Yasmin van Kasteren and Professor Tarun Bastiampillai.

Development of the new electronic health record program AI2 received funding from the Medical Research Future Fund. The software is hosted by the SA Health and Medical Research Institute.

Fellow SA Country Health mental health expert, Linda Ladlams, is working with the clinic as a consumer and carer consultant on the rollout of the program. She provides some perspectives from a consumer and carer perspective

Individual perspective

This tool can be utilised to promote independence and empower the individual to manage and control their own recovery journey. Medication and appointments may for some individuals be an ongoing part of their own recovery. This allows the individual the scope to learn how to maintain and keep medication and appointments organised and up to date, with a safety mechanism of mediation and appointments being monitored and the appropriate bodies being alerted if required.

If an individual doesn’t have a support network to assist with medication and appointments this for some individuals especially those that don’t work by dates and calendars can rely on to assist them to keep important appointments, medication reviews and updates.

If an individual moves from one location to another, this will allow a clean transition from one professional to another without anything getting lost along the way.

This tool has been devised to minimise the potentially debilitating impact that ongoing medication and professional supports that are at times may be required in an individual’s recovery journey. It supports  a fulfilling place with family and friends in the community.

Carer/support person perspective

This is a useful tool that can be utilised by the carer/support people of the individual. This provides an opportunity for a level of independence to enable self-management of medication and appointments. This is a role that traditionally has always for some individuals been left up to the designated carer.

If there is a lapse of medication compliance or missed appointments the individual and carer can be contacted to offer appropriate support mechanisms to assist in embedding a medication and appointment routine.

If a carer/support person requires respite or isn’t available there is a mechanism available to support the individual with medication and appointments. If the individual isn’t familiar with these processes, there is a safeguard in place to allow for early intervention to minimise any harm to the individual.

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College of Medicine and Public Health