Monday, October 15, 2012
St Joseph's Health Care, London - Regional Mental Health Care
Lawson Applies a Smart Solution to Community Mental Health Care
For mental health care patients living in the community, accessing ongoing care can be challenging. With a “smart” new strategy, Lawson Health Research Institute’s Dr. Cheryl Forchuk hopes to better connect patients with the support they need.
In partnership with TELUS Health and Canada Health Infoway, Dr. Forchuk is engaging a new way to deliver mental health care to those living within the community. The project, called the “Mental Health Engagement Network (MHEN),” uses smart phones and web services to connect patients to their health team no matter where they are.
“Some of the biggest limitations to community mental health care are time and travel,” Dr. Forchuk explains. “It can be difficult for patients to put their entire day on hold for a check-up. The travel and waiting can take hours. This means many people don’t seek help until they’re already in crisis.” Through the MHEN project, Dr. Forchuk hopes to break down these barriers.
Each patient in the project will receive a smart phone and a Lawson SMART (Supportive Mental Assessment Rehabilitation and Treatment) record. Unlike traditional paper records, the SMART record is loaded with interactive tips and tools to help patients manage their daily needs.
Prompts and reminders are built in to reflect each individual care plan. Medication schedules and instructions are updated dynamically to keep patients on track. When it’s time for a prescription refill, the SMART record sends a friendly reminder.
Mood monitor tools provide daily checkups. If a patient’s mood starts to waver, the SMART record triggers a personalized reminder to boost their spirits. This could be anything from taking a walk to phoning a friend.
Patients are also linked directly to their care providers, who are each equipped with a tablet to monitor progress remotely. They can send text messages back and forth, and share health status updates.
“Many of these things are already being done,” Dr. Forchuk says. “But on paper, you don’t have the prompts and reminders built in, and you don’t have this central access. This project does a lot of things we’re already doing, but improves them by taking advantage of the technology now available to us.”
Over the next year, Dr. Forchuk and her team will follow 400 patients and 50 care providers from St Joseph’s Health Care London, London Health Sciences Centre, and community agencies like the Canadian Mental Health Association and WOTCH Community Mental Health Services.
By providing virtual access to health care information, Dr. Forchuk hopes to empower her clients to take control of their health. If successful, the MHEN project could be a new way to deliver care to mental health care patients living in communities across the country.
Communication and Public Affairs
St Joseph's Health Care, London
519-646 6100 ext 47402