Behavioral Health Tech Goes Mobile with Austin Startup
Restricted by financial, staffing, and stigma barriers, investment in behavioral health resources and infrastructure has lagged behind other forms of medical spending.
Interestingly Austin is home to a handful of behavioral health tech companies. Cloud 9 for example provides a comprehensive mobile patient interface that keeps behavioral health patients continuously connected to their care team.
Their virtual care delivery platform empowers the provider team at value-based healthcare enterprises to manage patients, divert crises, and expand access to care.
Its founder JC Adams was part of a recent Health Tech Austin panel at the Capital Factory that took on the topic of the future of mental healthcare. He was joined by David Evans CEO, Austin/Travis County – Integral Care and Lauren Lacefield Lewis, deputy associate commissioner, Texas Department of Health and Human Services in a broad discussion about technology implementation, patient privacy and public jurisdiction.
The discussion explored the many challenges facing behavioral health patients and how the state of Texas and community health organizations are using data and health technology to cope with limited resources and expanding needs. The mental health system must grapple with staff and counselor shortages, high patient no-show rates, and travel logistics.
In fact Cloud 9 is partnering with Integral Care — an innovative provider of community-based, behavioral health services serving Austin and Travis County. The goal is to incorporate mobile solutions that improve access to an underserved population and offer greater flexibility in how and where doctors and patients provide and receive care.
Here are some of JC’s observations on how behavioral health tech is evolving and will impact the delivery of mental health services.
Implementing Behavioral Health Tech
JC: When it comes to health tech implementation on the enterprise side, the number one concern is not changing workflows. They just want to do their jobs.
We’ve interviewed behavioral health organizations to understand how they deliver behavioral health care. We try to make health tech a tool that amplifies what they already do.
On the individual practice level, I sometimes see a generational gap in terms of adopting technology. Younger practitioners are more likely to want to use a tool. But we all get set in our ways. When I talk to older psychiatrists, they don’t often take insurance and prefer cash at the door. I look around, and I see typewriters and dusty desktops. Interestingly at the same time, they all have the latest and greatest smart phones. They love using apps.
So our goal is make the technology simple and fun to use.
Ensuring Confidence and Gaining Confidence
JC: If we are going to get people to engage in behavioral health care – especially populations that have been more reluctant to trust the healthcare system — we have to ensure their privacy and get their trust. Otherwise we won’t make progress with stigma reduction.
From the very beginning, we have invested a lot in the backend to make sure we are beyond HIPAA compliant and are high trust certified. In the foreground, we have to let people know this is their data; their data is locked down and secure. If you want to share your data with a healthcare provider, organization, payer or clinician, then you can authorize to do so. We need that trust. It’s very important.
Behavioral Health Tech and First Responders
JC: We’re looking at a brand new program to give first responders more than just the training. We offer an iPad with tools including a checklist to make it really easy to follow procedures. It also provides access to behavioral health records and, if possible, a trained tele-psychiatrist who can work with law enforcement or EMT right on the scene to better assess the situation.
This may allow a clinician to determine if a patient can be best treated on location or taken home instead of being transported to a psych emergency department, a medical emergency department or worse jail.
What health tech companies are missing with behavioral health
JC: I think new ventures coming into the space overlook the importance of really listening. It’s a huge oversight to think that solution that works in one industry, with another application or even another area of medicine can be ramped up as soon as possible and applied to behavioral health.
My advice is listen to people who have been on the front lines in the mental illness battle for decades. We need to build solutions that fit their needs while consulting and suggesting new strategies that can be adopted at the organizational level to make an impact.
Contact me if you need marketing support for your behavioral health tech company.