Advocate Health Care will be rolling out a new study testing the efficacy of a patient-provider communication technology that aids patients living with depression.
Developed in partnership with pharma companies Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Lundbeck US, the study titled "Patient Management of Depression through Technology: A Study of Digitally Enabled Management" will look at how health technology enhances patient engagement and patient-provider communication in mental healthcare.
The communication tool will be hosted on the Advocate Pathway App and will allow patients to record their mood symptoms, function, medication adherence, and treatment side effects. It will also let patients chart the start of and potential changes in antidepressant therapy.
App data will link back to the healthcare provider’s records, which will ideally spark more informed patient-provider discussions about mental healthcare and shared decision-making.
Currently, there are several gaps in communication between patients and providers when addressing mental health, according to the study’s principle investigator David Kemp, MD.
"We are enthusiastic about providing a technology solution that directly addresses existing gaps in patient-clinician engagement, as well as responds to the growing needs impacting chronic disease management," said Kemp, who is also Medical Director of the Behavioral Health Service Line at Advocate Health Care.
This tool will also be helpful for expanding healthcare outside of the four walls of the doctor’s office, said Takeda Vice President and Head of the US Medical Office and US Medical Affairs Darryl Sleep, MD.
"Health-related information and communication technology solutions utilizing mobile apps have the potential to expand health interventions beyond the face-to-face contacts that are the hallmark of traditional healthcare," Sleep explained. "This collaboration will create technology that translates science into solution-oriented, patient-centered support, a key priority for Takeda."
Advocate’s patient population is ideal for testing the app because it is diverse and because the healthcare organization focuses on community health solutions, research leaders said. The Advocate also has experience assessing how patient engagement technology can improve patient experience, access to care, and health outcomes.
This pilot will primarily test how well patient engagement mHealth solutions can impact patient-provider communication. The research team will employ the patient activation measure to determine how engagement changes with app use. Additionally, the team developed the Patient-Provider Engagement Scale to determine how both parties interact with each other with app use.
Secondary outcomes include changes in depression severity, cognitive dysfunction with depression, switches in antidepressants and medication, medication adherence, quality of life, employee productivity, patient and provider satisfaction with the app, and healthcare utilization rates.
"Depression is a complex disease that affects individuals differently,” said Lundbeck Chief Medical officer and Vice President Doug Williamson, MD. “At Lundbeck, we believe each patient deserves a unique approach to making sure their treatment plan is specific to their needs. We're excited about our collaborative partnership with Advocate Health Care, which we hope will advance our understanding of the impact of digital technologies for MDD patients and practitioners to help tailor treatment approaches and support the promotion of overall better health outcomes."
The healthcare industry has significant work to do to improve patient interactions with mental healthcare, experts have asserted.
A 2017 study from NYU Langone showed that despite the high need, patient access to mental healthcare is waning. This is likely because of cost barriers and insufficient payer coverage, the researchers found.
Additionally, stigma serves as a considerable barrier to receiving mental healthcare. A 2014 study published in Psychological Science in Public Interest found that about 40 percent of the nearly 60 million patients managing mental illness go without care because of stigma.
Other barriers include lack of knowledge about treatment options, inability to recognize symptoms in one’s self, and inability to identify adequate resources for treatment.
This new app from Advocate Health Care will aid patients who are already accessing mental healthcare but does not appear to have a solution for getting patients into the office. However, it will help support patients once they begin to access care, potentially improving outcomes and increasing the likelihood that patients will adhere to care plans.
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