Jan Mokkenstorm (founder and director of 113 Zelfmoordpreventie) and Maarten de Venster (portfoliomanager NewHealth Collective) shared their ideas and experiences on how technology can help to improve mental care at AHTI Connect ‘Mental care in the virtual world – how technology can help’ on Thursday, October 19, 2017.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts
In the past few years, the importance of suicide prevention is becoming more and more acknowledged by not only politicians, but also by the general public. Nowadays, the number of deaths caused by suicide is much higher than the number of people killed by traffic accidents. Even though these two causes of deaths do not seem to have any resemblance, Jan Mokkenstorm showed that the systematic approach that has been set up in the ’70s to lower the number of traffic accidents could be used in suicide prevention as well. Among these measures is the use of technology.
In 2007, Jan Mokkenstorm founded 113 Online in to make it easier for suicidal individuals to seek help. Since then, the organization has grown and now offers a variety of services, ranging from a suicide crisis hotline, online therapy, a chat function and e-learning modules. As the demand for these services is becoming higher, Jan explained that it is important to use technology as a means to respond effectively to the needs of these individuals. In his words, he described 113 Zelfmoordprevention as “painfully successful”. In order to meet the increased demand for suicide crisis services, technology can help to make the delivery of services more efficient and support more individuals – although crisis services still require the use of “human interaction” and may not be fully replaced.
Maarten de Venster, portfoliomanager at e-health platform NewHealth Collective, is involved in the implementation of healthcare technology. After working with several mental health organizations (GGZ instanties), the project NewHealth was established: “The healthcare professional in your pocket”.
NewHealth collective is an online platform where people with mental diseases can communicate and where they can follow online courses (learning modules). Although the use of these online services have often been described to be “the future of healthcare”, the adoption of these services can be difficult by both healthcare professionals and healthcare consumers. Therefore, they launched Tess: a virtual mentor who is available for patients 24/7. Tess helps with questions on e-learning modules, but can also ‘listen’ when someone is not feeling well. Tess should not be seen as the healthcare professional, but as an assistant of the patient.
Using technology to improve mental health services
Technology can help to improve the access and availability of mental health services, but it can be difficult to determine the role of technology. During the discussion, there were questions raised on ethical aspects: is it possible to skip the human component in delivering mental care services? Are people being fooled when artificial intelligence is introduced as means to deliver mental care? The discussion on these matters showed that communication and information on the provision of these services is key.
Transforming healthcare together
AHTI Connect brings the worlds of technology and care closer together. We give thought to how things can be done smarter, or better. Every month with a different theme and different speakers from the scientific and social field.
The next AHTI Connect is on November 9, 2017 at the AHTC. Theme of this event is ‘Evidence-based policy: Fact of Fiction?’