Tech, Tech, and More Tech (and Why I think it is cool)

Social Work, Technology, Mental Health

I was engaged in a conversation on twitter with Dr. James Legan about this cool project he is working on. He is using a Projected Electronic Health Record during patient visits by putting the health record on a big screen in his office. He also shared some other tech that he is using as a doctor.

The more I hang on out twitter the more I end up meeting tech friendly people working on fantastic ideas.

I started out with a modest twitter list called "Mental/Physical Tech".  It has slowly grown to 114 people and companies that I think are doing some cool stuff with technology.  Also I have been reaching out to people in the health information technology field on twitter (#HITsm). There is a vibrant Social Work and Technology group on Google Plus. So why is this social worker so incredibly interested in technology for healthcare? Dr. Legan requested my insights as a social worker and care coordinator so here are my thoughts...

The Potential 

In working with youth I see how much potential technology has for healthcare (I am putting mental/physical health as a catch all here). It also has to be done in a respectful way that honors people's wishes.  

Emerging technology honors individual preferences but also is thinking about new ways to engage with individuals in their care.

Engagement/Empowerment

I like to think of my blog as a place to get "unstuck" with resources. Most of my blog posts are about some form of technology because I think it is a great way to get unstuck. A lot of the time introducing a piece of technology can change the relationship between the provider and the person receiving services.
My favorite example of this is The Virtual Hope Box. This is an app where the consumer and the provider co-create coping strategies. Rather than simply passively developing a "safety plan" the consumer plays an active role in building "the box" on the app. The app creates a way to engage around the issue that the consumer owns.

Feedback

There are a lot of symptom trackers or mood trackers out there. These can spit out "data" that person owns. A concrete example would be bringing data about exercise on your FitBit  to the cardiologist. I have this visual of a you and your cardiologist sitting around the campfire discussing the negative or positive results. Hopefully coming to a shared understanding of what healthy or baseline data is.
In a similar fashion an individual can bring their mood tracker to their mental health provider. We are always trained to make our goals "concrete and measurable". Someday will our treatment plans say "XXXX will identify three times in the week they used their Virtual Hope Box?"

Care Coordination

I have blogged about an awesome suicide postvention project in Northern Ireland. I probably would not have "met" the author if it was not for technology. The world is getting smaller through technology. As someone who provides case management services, the healthcare world can seem rather large and complex. As the case manager I often share how daunting coordinating care can be for families.  

The good news is that there is emerging technology that is bringing providers and families closer together.

There are many companies working on care coordination software. There are many apps offering secure exchange of information via text and even some integrating secure video (See Behavioral Imaging and Reel Dx.)

Images and records have the capability of being shared almost instantaneously across care teams and families. There needs to be more "interoperability" or the ability to share data across systems of care. For a great explanation of this check on this blog post by Joseph Babaian. Technology is moving in the direction where if you have a therapist, psychiatrist, cardiologist, and endocrinologist it will be much easier for them to share information.

I am excited about the prospects of technology and the future to improve healthcare. Technology can change the relationship between providers and the individuals we serve. It can engage, empower, give feedback; make room for shared ownership of decision making and the care experience. I see technology playing a critical role in healthcare and suicide prevention. So if you see me out there on social media being psyched about technology, that is why. Would love to hear what others think about Technology's role in improving healthcare.

About the Author
Sean Erreger
Sean Erreger
Sean Erreger

Sean is a mental health care manager, social work blogger and consultant. He has variety of direct practice social work experience in therapy and crisis intervention. He is interested in how technology is changing the therapeutic process. You can find him at his blog "Stuck On Social Work" and any of the listed social media outlets.