Digital platform offers mental health support to students
Universities in the US are implementing a digital healthcare platform that provides therapy and psychiatric services to students struggling to get these treatments because of the pandemic.
Mantra Health offers teletherapy and psychiatric services to students who cannot access support because of appointment backlogs, or who are remote learning and therefore can't access their university's counselling services.
The platform is integrated into universities' health and counselling centers, allowing them to make referrals to both board-certified psychiatric specialists and licensed therapists affiliated with Mantra Health via the counsellor portal, as well as collaborate on evidence-based treatment plans, coordinate the administration of care and track the student's progress over time.
Psychiatrists working with Mantra Health can also prescribe non-controlled medication that has evidence of treating symptoms of depression, anxiety and attention deficit disorder.
Via the student portal, students can make appointments that are conducted remotely and offered at flexible times including evenings and weekends, while 24/7 messaging is also available.
According to researchers, more than 70 per cent of university students are experiencing anxiety and stress because of the Covid-19 outbreak. Meanwhile the pandemic has reduced the number of available mental health providers, increasing appointment backlogs and keeping treatment out of reach.
“Increased college student demand for mental healthcare contrasted with an on-campus shortage of providers is creating appointment wait times of up to several months" Ed Gaussen, CEO and co-founder of Mantra Health explained. "Meanwhile, off-campus referrals to local providers are expensive, inconvenient for students, and sometimes simply not available, especially at schools outside of major metropolitan areas.
“These issues are posing a serious health risk to students. Schools need a quick and easy way to ramp up access to effective mental health treatment, while being kept in the loop on the progress of their students. That is what our new Managed Care Program offers.”
Mantra Health’s services are currently available in six states and Moravian College and Penn State in Pennsylvania, and St. John’s University in New York are among the universities that have adopted it.
NHSX releases new data plans, experts call for transparency
Patients in England will get "greater control" over their health and care data according to new proposals set out by the government.
In a new draft strategy called "Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data", Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock says that more effective use of data will deliver better patient-focused care. "This strategy seeks to put people in control of their own data, while supporting the NHS in creating a modernised system fit for the 21st century which puts patients and staff in pole position."
Under the new plans people will be able to access their medical records from different parts of the health system through different applications, to access test results, medication lists, procedures and care plans.
The strategy, published by NHSX, the government department that sets policies for the use of technology within the NHS, follows delays to the creation of a central database of patient records amid concerns over data sharing and a lack of transparency, with critics saying that only a small proportion of the public were made aware of the plans and the choice to opt out.
Kevin Curran, senior member of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Professor of Cybersecurity at the University of Ulster, says that moving health records online raises concerns. "The move to an online app does seem like a natural progression, however there is a difference between having computerised records within our healthcare IT infrastructure and having those records reside on a public facing server.
"Having records inhouse limits the range and type of access – it's far more difficult for remote hackers" Curran said. "There are techniques that healthcare organisations can use to reduce the risk of future data breaches. One way is to make it ‘opt in’, so patients have the choice to decide whether their medical information is moved to a public facing service so that they can access it.
"However, those who do not opt in or download the app instead should have their records hosted in a non-public-facing cloud service. This way, if a data breach does occur, those who never used the app, or not wanted to, will not have had their details released."
The new strategy has been welcomed by some, with an emphasis on the need for transparency. Adam Steventon, Director of Data Analytics at the Health Foundation, said: "Health data has played a critical role in the last year – from tracking COVID-19 outbreaks and developing treatments, to getting people booked in for their vaccines. It is critical that the use of data is accelerated if the NHS is to tackle the backlog of care and address the massive health challenges facing the country.
"It is particularly positive that the government has committed to building analytical and data science capability in the NHS and to improving data on social care. To ensure the full potential of data can be realised, the government must ensure transparency on how it will be used and the rights and options people have, as well as engaging with the public and health care professionals to build trust and show people how their data can improve the NHS and save lives."