I developed the Digital Stress Management Survey to gain insight into how people are using digital technologies in the mental health contexts of education, care, support and treatment. So far, I have gotten a bit over 100 responses, mostly from individuals describing themselves as “mental health proactives”. I am continually growing this sample and appreciate your adding your voice to it at (http://bit.ly/dMHpSurvey0420). In exchange for your participation, I will share a copy of the results from the last wave.

Among the most important of this research’s queries is what respondents believe to be the greatest barriers to their greater use of digital mental health solutions. I admit that I had assumed that stigma would be the most prevalent barrier but interestingly enough, it wasn’t as you can see from the results slide below:

As you can see efficacy, usability and privacy concerns are mentioned significantly more often. These express an opportunity for this entire sector to continue to focus investment and effort to cross over from a technology driven first phase of sector evolution to a more patient experience driven one. This is not an uncommon progression, just a necessary one needing to be addressed, as a prerequisite to scale.

Efficacy Doubts: Though a significant body of evidence has been developed for digital mental health, and especially as to the application of tele-psych and eCBT, the fact is that there is still a lot of work to be done to develop the awareness of and confidence in this evidence, on the part of both clinicians and consumers.

Usability Concerns: This response reflects an opportunity for solutions developers to continue to improve the ease and convenience of their customer experiences, as we know the most effective technology applications will not get used if they are not built to account for user error and intuition. As an avid user of applications in this space, I can attest to this in my own personal experiences. In this space, the challenges that are most off-putting are often the most subtle. Examples that come to mind for me include:
1) cumbersome logging in that could be eased with 2-way authentication,
2) too many or too few re-engagement nudges to keep me connected to the experience over time,
3) manual information entry that is too labor-intensive though it could be eased with voice and icon entry as well as predictive entry, and/or
4) unduly insightful reporting of trends and advice, regarding my interventions.

Privacy Concerns: This response is not surprising given
1) how little we understand about what makes for good privacy protection,
2) our lack of engagement in scouring the minute details of solutions’ privacy statements to assure they are sufficiently compliant. This is a real dilemma as there is a user’s awareness of a risk, but a lack of user skill and time to address this risk. Not a few commentators in this space have noted the need for a service or seal to assure adequate privacy standards. John Torous, MD, MBI, and his work with the APA App Evaluation Model is who I have heard on this topic most often. It is good to hear about emerging digital formulary firms like Rx.Health, Xealth and IQVIA’s AppScript, which I am in the midst of getting familiar with. We can also hope that with time these services will aid our management of this risk and lower this barrier. I will write more about these later. If you know of others, please let me know at craig@wiseworking.com

Well, these are good findings, which I am sure are confirmed elsewhere and which certainly set an agenda for what we as leaders in this space need to continually work on in order to drive scape and adoption.

Thanks again for reading and spreading word on The Digital Mental Health Project and take a few minutes to respond to our Digital Stress Management Survey. Also, please subscribe to receive our postings in your inbox.

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