My Take (#2) on Becky Inkster’s Digital Innovation in Mental Health Conference: What Adoption Takes

At the 2018 Digital Innovation in Mental Health Conference, I attended in mid-July in London, UK, there was abundant discussion about Trust as key to adoption of tech in the mental health space. Reviewing my notes, I am gratified to compile a list of factors that adoption will take. At least for me, it turns out to be an instructive checklist for we leaders in this space:

  1. Adoption takes consideration of the cost of ongoing customer engagement and solution upkeep at the seed and commissioning stages of development. When this is not considered, we end up with too many orphaned solutions which may yield learning in early stages but which lack adequate resourcing for ongoing scale. This is a very good point posited by panelist, Barnaby Perks of Oxford VR. The strategic (advantageous) consideration here is: Are your funding and resource plans accounting for an interactive process of ongoing customer stakeholder engagements an adaptations?
  2. Adoption takes engagement of the ENTIRE care community. We heard this from various panelists and speakers throughout the conference, and especially Richard Andrews of Healios, a care platform focused on accommodating the inclusion of family members in the treatment process through remote means. There is the increasing realization that against the complexity of mental health as a social process, going beyond medical and health, and the shortage of resources, the care community is a much underutilized resource for detection, intervention, adherence, healing and sustained recovery. Note that the care community also alludes to includes faith leaders & colleagues, teachers, law enforcement and social care members, in addition to family and caregivers. Strategic (advantageous) considerations here are: To what degree does your solution account for engagement of the broader family & care system of the end user? To how many of your product & service development sessions have you invited and engaged actual users, patients, caregivers, social workers, teachers, faith leaders and law enforcement to co-create your current or future product offerings?
  3. Adoption takes consideration of “personal routes”, “intervention maps”, “blended care” and “precision mental health”Sarafina Suransky of MindDistrict did a nice job of talking about the importance of personalization in this space. Indeed, human beings’ desired paths are as diverse as the desiring journeyers. This is a big opp and threat for this space. Usability, personalization and insight-driven engagement are consistently mentioned barriers to stickiness when I conduct interviews with DMH users. Our smart tech needs to get smarter faster if its sustained adoption is going to be part of our future. The strategic consideration here is: How adaptive is your solution to the the stated and behavioral feedback of users, adding more blended and precise intervention to the user experience?
  4. Adoption by consumers, patients, caregivers and healthcare systems takes treator adoption. As treators are the principal evaluators, recommenders and integrator of therapies into treatment pathways, getting them confident and willing to use digital mental health solutions and therapeutics is absolutely critical to sustained adoption by consumers, patients and caregivers. This is the case on the treatment side, and will play a role on the wellness side as we are overwhelmed with choices and need advice on how to distinguish the best solution for our wellness. The strategic consideration here is: Are you clear about the most threateningadoption fail factors for those treators who use or recommend your service?
  5. Adoption takes clinical pathway & lifestyle integration. The more that users can use these technologies in their already established “care pathways”, the less cognitive and physical energy it will take for them to adopt and the more likely they will. This is a fair point made by Richard Andrews of Healios. From a personal pathway integration stand point, there is the continual opportunity to develop and position these techs as “helping us to do more of what I already do” more than getting us to do what we do not. If we meditate, the tech should help us meditate better. If we take medication, the tech should help us to be more effective in our adherence. If we go to a treator, the tech should make this more convenient and timely to do. As always, tech does little on its own, but rather accelerates, amplifies, and increases the efficiency of what we already do. The strategic consideration here is: Are you clear about the clinical and lifestyle pathways your product most effortlessly fit into, as well as various ways your current designs fight with and disrupt the smooth flow of these pathways?

These are not so much rocket science to understand, as seeming Mt. Everest climbs to achieve. That being as it is, the work has already begun, as the gathering of colleagues at this Conference revealed, and we have miles to go before we sleep, and miles to go before we sleep, a la Robert Frost.

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Be well.

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