New App Digitizes Collaborative Mental Health Care

The following is a piece written by Unsinkable’s Jody Carrow following her interview with Aidan Scott

Aidan Scott is a survivor of physical and sexual abuse by a parent who has turned his past into opportunities to promote mental health education. After having experienced first-hand the challenges involved with accessing and managing mental health care, Aidan created Speakbox. Aidan shares his journey with us in a separate Unsinkable interview. Today, we hear how Speakbox enhances digital collaboration for mental health.

Please talk to me about Speakbox of which you are co-founder and CEO.

Sure! Speakbox is addressing a need for digital tools to support collaborative care. The quick and dirty of it is that within health care there has been a lot of positive steps toward digitizing health care. It’s centralized people’s health records, and it’s created easier ways to do data sharing amongst care teams and different health care professionals. It’s still in its infancy, but it’s getting so much better and rapidly improving.

But it seems like a lot of people have forgotten about mental health. Mental health has the added challenge of being a fragmented system. We have a lot of private practice mental health professionals who are disconnected from public mental health and general medicine, acute care, hospitals, etc.… My physician has no information on what therapeutic methods my counsellor is using, or what stage I am at, what skill I’m working on, where I’m challenged, where I’m succeeding, what to support me on.

Speakbox wants to change that in a few significant ways. One of them is that people will be able to create their own personal health record that they are the stewards of. So your mental health information stays with you and our platform supports you. One is completely free and available to everyone and involves habit formation, so things like regular mental health check-ins that are tied to events in your life. It’s like a journal function built into the app. Speakbox puts qualified surveys in like the PHC9 which is a depression index questionnaire; we have things like the GAD7 which is an anxiety evaluation. So we can start to plot these and give people a visual reference to where they’re at emotionally all in one place with no barriers.

Secondly, when people need additional support and they want to work collaboratively with a health care professional, or with a team of them in the mental health space, they can also be using Speakbox. For example, they can send me my case notes from my sessions. And, in advance of a session, I can send them things like what my goals might be; I can send them a past event that I’ve noted in the app.

Speakbox allows you to create a record that you make in the moment to share it with your therapist in advance so you can prioritize and be the guide for your own care at your next session. You don’t spend the first 15 minutes of each session literally playing telephone to catch your therapist up.

When that appointment concludes, rather than your case notes going into a folder to die, they are shared with you along with your therapist’s recommendations. They can summarize what you talked about, show where you’re making progress, recap the skills you are working on, and then we in the app can give you encouragement and reminders outside the session. We can give you extra support with your follow through.

When/if you conclude that relationship with your therapist, you’re the steward of your data and you both get carbon copies – you and your health professional. So if you move on to another health care professional, you can opt them into your data so they can see that history record if you want; they can see your past check ins and where you’re at if you want. Your family doctor can get a download of that data if you permit them to and then they can give you much fuller support in terms of your mental health care.

We’re overcoming one of the biggest obstacles which is interoperability. Our mantra at Speakbox is “Health Unobstructed”.

Wow! This sounds like an ‘alive’ way of managing your mental health.

Yeah. And a lot of solutions are built strictly for the clinician. And there’s a huge number of apps built for the public… it’s the Wild West of apps. You can go online and download a bunch of mood journals and stuff like that and you really don’t know where your data is going, you don’t know who the developer is, you don’t know what they’re going to do with that data or what else they’re tracking. I don’t say that in a fear mongering way, it’s just the truth.

And so what’s novel about Speakbox is that it’s one of the first on the market to truly recognize the needs of both members of the public and the health care professional.

We’re working with both communities throughout the design and implementation process from across North America, so general public at the front end and interviewing physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists to really understand their work flow as we design the back end of the platform so that they have what they need and to ensure that data is protected in the most secure way.

We’ve built it collaboratively at the beginning, using engagement at every step of the way.

You can start using Speakbox now! It’s available for free on the App Store or Google Play.

Thank-you, Aidan, for sharing with Unsinkable and for all the work you do on behalf of all of us.