How digital health can combat mental health
During the pandemic, digital health care has enabled resources to be better allocated to places of high strain — such as moving appointments from hospitals to at-home telecalls, or enabling interstate healthcare workers to provide virtual consultations to patients in higher-demand locations. Additionally, hospitals are now able to conduct virtual rounds, visitations and interpretation services, all in an effort to eliminate unnecessary exposure between clinicians and patients.
For patients who require face-to-face medical support, it is important they still receive the care they require. Many healthcare software providers now offer a ‘contactless experience’, giving patients confidence that they can receive medical support in a safer environment, in the COVID-19 world.
How digital health can help deliver mental health services
At Jayex, we believe there remains an opportunity to use digital healthcare services to discreetly and effectively identify mental health patients. Mental health and wellbeing is an increasingly important topic of conversation as the ongoing impacts of the coronavirus pandemic continue to cause significant disruption to the lives of everyone globally. Social isolation and financial hardship can take their toll on anybody, and a near-constant stream of negative news reports can exacerbate feelings of anxiety or distress.
For many individuals, managing their mental health during this time of uncertainty can be an ongoing challenge. Knowing how to provide support to those affected and linking them with available resources is incredibly important. However, the stigma associated with mental health problems may cause reluctance to seek support for both COVID-19 and mental health conditions.
There are several actions healthcare providers can take to ensure effective delivery of their mental health services.
These can include:
- Messaging and display technology: Multiple providers offer software solutions with specific COVID-19 or treatment information that can be displayed within practices or distributed via email/SMS. This allows hospitals and practices to distribute key information, hotline numbers and tips to help manage mental health issues ahead of patients asking.
- Using digital kiosks/software to interact with patients in care: Customised or pre-populated surveys can be used to engage with patients before they see a practitioner via check-in kiosks and other digital devices. This is useful in asking patients sensitive questions that they may not feel comfortable answering in a face-to-face consult. Receiving this information via the survey may trigger practices to take action and send additional information to the patient if required.
Looking after our own: safeguarding the mental health of healthcare workers
It’s important to remember the mental health of healthcare workers in the current environment. The pandemic is like nothing healthcare workers have seen before, and while the response has been one of resilience, dedication and compassion, it’s essential to acknowledge the enormous pressure that the industry is under.
With R U OK? Day on 10 September, now is an opportune time to remind healthcare workers of helpful coping strategies such as ensuring sufficient rest and respite during work or between shifts, eating sufficient and healthy food, engaging in physical activity and staying in contact with family and friends.
Adapting to the current COVID-19 environment doesn’t need to be complicated. Digital healthcare providers are ready to implement solutions to help guide health practitioners in ‘the new normal’ for patient care during the pandemic. Australia’s health care is only as good as the systems in place, so maintaining a level of care, consideration, limiting points of contact and providing clear information to patients and workers can have a clear and direct impact on the mental health of all.
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