Monday, April 20, 2020

Will this technology breakthrough reinvent the future of mental healthcare?

3 min read
Written by

Feel Therapeutics

If there’s one positive thing that COVID-19 has done it’s that it has modernized the way people can access mental health care and helped drive developments in remote patient monitoring.

Technology can now quantify emotions for the first time

Have you noticed that when people get angry their heart starts beating faster or when they are stressed they tend to start sweating? This happens because certain bio-signals are strongly correlated with a person’s emotional status.

Technology has evolved to the extent that it is possible to translate bio-signals such as Electro-dermal activity, heart rate variability and skin temperature into emotions, eliminating the need to ask people to manually complete surveys and questionnaires.

This was made possible for the very first time through the Feel Emotion Sensor, a wearable digital therapeutics mental health device that uses proprietary algorithms to continuously monitor a person’s emotional state.

Over the course of eight weeks, between February and April 2020, the Feel Emotion Sensor collected data of a random sample group of participants in Europe and the USA and analyzed close to 592 million samples of biosignals and approximately 900 significant emotional moments to understand and quantify, for the very first time, the changes to people’s emotional states due to COVID-19.

Analysis of the data showed:

  • That there was a dramatic drop in the various bio-signals after lockdown, indicating a significant change in people’s emotional state.
  • This change included the occurrence of novel emotions such as feeling vulnerable, empty, terrified, fearful and miserable
  • The number of negative emotions experienced almost doubled in occurrence and intensity.

The full study can be found here.

Is this a game-changer for mental healthcare?

Currently, when it comes to mental health care, the single biggest problem facing the sector is the lack of continuous objective data. For example, when you visit the doctor he takes your temperature or orders blood exams to prescribe a treatment. In the mental health field, so far there hasn’t been a diagnostic tool to continuously monitor a person’s emotional state.

The fact that it is now possible to collate and analyze such data will revolutionize the mental health sector because:

  • It allows mental health professionals to be proactive in their support rather than reactive. This is because the continual monitoring of a person’s mental health status will give therapists a valuable tool through which they can assess their patient’s needs and provide real-time, personalized care and support, just like the rest of the medical profession.
  • The knock-on effect of using this emerging technology is an improved mental health care system, because it will eliminate waiting times to access support and provide access to help and intervention 24 hours a day.
  • This in turn will reduce the need for hospitalization and time off work, which will improve productivity for employers and thus reduce their medical expenses.
  • It will allow for remote patient monitoring and support, which due to COVID-19 and social distancing is now a big need. Remote contact allows patients to stay in touch with their therapists and for therapists to actively monitor and support their patients.

The end result being happier and healthier people who, thanks to the emotion recognition technology, have been able to connect with their inner self and develop emotional awareness and positive emotional habits.

What is digital therapeutics exactly?

Digital therapeutics are beneficial interventions that can mirror or improve existing face-to-face therapies, to help prevent, manage or treat medical conditions.

Driven by artificial intelligence and high-quality software apps and programs, they are evidence-based, clinically validated and adhere to strict regulations.

The future of mental health will be an app not a pill

The use of digital therapeutics and remote patient monitoring is gaining, and will continue to gain traction in the mental healthcare sector.

This will lead the way for other such innovations including diagnostics, pharmaceutical drug assessments and clinical trials. We envision a world where remote patient monitoring through technology would be able to understand when someone is going through a panic attack, a depressive episode, a mood swing or even has suicide ideation, and intervene before it’s too late. So no one will suffer alone, ever again. As part of that, Feel Therapeutics creates programs that aim to develop digital biomarkers and therapeutics to bring objective, passive, and continuous measurement and data to reinvent the way we diagnose, manage, and care for mental health.

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