Impact of Technology on Mental Health

HITLAB's Future of Virtual Firsts: Panel Discussion with the Leaders of Ellipsis Health

June 7, 2021  |   by Yitzchak David

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Technological advancements in medicine have increased year-over-year for over the past several decades. Ellipsis Health has pioneered some of these advancements in the mental and behavioral health space. With its first in-kind voicebased vital signs technology, this startup has added a new dimension to the management of depression and anxiety. As the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated, digital health services have increasingly become an important part of the healthcare delivery model.

Ellipsis’ Co-Founder Dr. Mike Aratow; Dr. Victor Carrion, who joined the startup as an advisor; and Melissa McCool, head of Ellipsis’ product development, sat down with HITLAB’s Chair, Stan Kanchnowki, PhD in a panel discussion at the Virtual Firsts Symposium to talk about the impact that digital health has had on mental and behavioral health clinical practice. 

Virtual Therapy Expands Access 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, mental and behavioral health has become more recognized as an integral part of personal wellbeing. Technology has allowed for greater connectivity with mental-health providers, by making long-distance assessments easier and allowing for the digitization and virtual delivery of evidence-based interventions. As Ms. McCool pointed out during the panel discussion, adoption of technology has given providers a greater ability to spend time focusing, addressing, and dealing with a patient’s deeper underlying issues during therapy sessions. Additionally, technology has also increased access to providers for patients who may live far from population centers. This has helped remove geographical barriers to care.  

 

 

Digital health in its current form prevents the ability for providers to have a deeper interaction with their patients or to identify gaps in the patient’s medical narrative when observing non-verbal cues

—Dr. Victor Carrion, Ellipsis Advisor

Obstacles to Overcome 

Digital technology has given researchers the ability to investigate, develop, and implement new digital interventions. However, technology in its current form limits virtual interactions between patients, providers, and healthcare payers. Obstacles, such as device connectivity to the Internet, still pose limits on provider access and care for patients. For mental and behavioral healthcare, technology has also limited certain clinical practice tools.  

 

Technological approaches still have limited efficacy when considering the full scope of mental and behavioral health interventions, such as art therapy, because of the emotional component that is felt when a patient and provider are physically present.  

 

“Digital health in its current form prevents the ability for providers to have a deeper interaction with their patients or to identify gaps in the patient’s medical narrative when observing non-verbal cues,” explained Dr. Carrion. As a result, Dr. Aratow conveyed, these technological limits could lead to gaps in care and communication for patients.

An Enhancement, Not a Replacement 

Looking forward, the consensus amongst the panel remained optimistic when considering the contribution of digital services in mental and behavioral health. However, technology in its current form would not be able to replace in-person care. Rather, it serves as a method for an in-person and digital hybrid delivery model for patients, providers, and payers.   

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About the Author

Yitzchak David is a Research Nurse and health tech enthusiast with interests in biotechnology and digital health. Yitzchak has a Masters in Health Policy and Management from New York Medical College as well as undergraduate degrees in Political Science from Rutgers University and in Nursing from Farleigh Dickinson University.

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