How data is used in the fight for good mental health

Thale Marie Østgård

“There is no pause button in mental health”.

Thale Marie Østgård

“There is no pause button in mental health”.

How data is used in the fight for good mental health.

In 2019, 650 Norwegians committed suicide. Honestly. That is 650 too many.! Many argue in favour of the use of human resources to help those who are experiencing difficulties. 

But what if we could also use technology to reduce this number? Marcus Solum from Amesto believes that part of the solution is to be found by improving the structure and availability of data using Business Intelligence.

Following patients is a manual affair for therapists who are trained in trauma treatment at the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies. The manual process is time consuming and delays the possibility of identifying and adjusting treatment rapidly.

Thale Marie Østgård, Psychiatric Nurse

"There is no pause button in mental health"

“There is no pause button in mental health,” says Thale Marie Østgård, Psychiatric Nurse. In order to succeed in the treatment of those who experience mental health issues, we need to have systems in place in order to identify behavioral changes in a systematic and effective way.

The Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies identified a need for a real-time solution to monitor treatment. A solution to collect new and historical data, presenting it in a simple and meaningful way. They foresaw a solution that could be used as part of a therapists’ treatment. This formed the basis of the assignment for which Amesto was commissioned via its partner Netigate. The solution was based on Power BI.

From insight to treatment

“Power BI is a Business Intelligence solution.  It creates interactive presentations that organise and visualise data,” Marcus from Amesto explains. The solution allows you to make better decisions based on data. It links to data from several sources of platforms and from different systems.

The solution was developed in alignment with the guidelines from Norsk Datasenter. It was built in order to make large volumes of anonymised data available for the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies. The anonymised data is available to therapists throughout the country, while only the actual therapist of the patient  is able to view individual patients’ data history via the use of secure servers and ID cards.

Specialist Psychologist and Researcher Harald Bækkelund led the pilot project on behalf of the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies.  He explains that they realised their solution was to reducing the time for the therapist before treatment,  which in turn made it possible for the therapists to offer help to the patient more quickly.

“As part of the consultation, patients respond to questions via an iPad. As soon as the patient has submitted their response, the therapist will be presented with a report containing curves and graphs based on the information given. Therapists are also presented with important information such as suicide risk alerts, allowing the treatment provider to ask additional questions to identify any underlying factors and facilitate quick and appropriate treatment.

“Previously, the first consultation would only include the patient’s submission of information. The patient would then have to wait untill next consultation before they could start discussing the issues at hand based on the patients responds. For someone struggling, this wait can be a long time. This is precisely why this solution is so important,” Thale adds.


Digitisation in mental health

Data is not only important to economists and IT personnel. Data is important to most disciplines, including mental health.

“COVID-19 is a good example of why technology becomes important,” Harald explains. What do we do when physical services are shut down? We have to rely on technology. Video meetings have become commonly used in the last year.

“Research actually shows that the impact of physical attendance is not as great as we previously assumed. This does not mean that it is not important, but that the most important thing is to be able to utilise alternative ways of solving challenges.

Data-based insights are especially important when it comes to being able to measure correctly,” Thale adds. Mental health is a complex field when it comes to data measurements. It is easier to measure a broken bone than a fractured psyche.

“In order to provide patients with a better service, we need to equip therapists with effective forms of treatment, while also providing them with the insight they need to adapt treatment to individual patients. This data is not only useful for research purposes but for the patients themselves. It could be the difference between life and death,” Harald explains.

Do we make good enough choices?

“At Amesto, we work in accordance with what we refer to as the Triple Bottom Line. It is a model based on measuring businesses not only from a financial perspective, it includes people and the environment too,” explains Marcus. The assignment from the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies has therefore been important to us; we want to make a difference.

Marcus believes that Amesto will see more assignments like this in the future and hopes to see the societal effects of crucial data-driven solutions.

Small things often make the big differences

“We need to open our eyes,” Marcus explains. We cannot simply sit and wait for the problems to go away. We need to make an active decision to contribute to important matters.

 

“Just look at the Gjerdrum disaster in Norway, December 2020,” Harald adds. A disaster in which we may need to go and treat a high volume of patients suffering from trauma and after-effects. In order to manage disasters like these, we need to have excellent tools as well as great therapists.

“And the tools need to be able to identify nuances,” Thale concludes. 

 Small things often make the big differences