As many as 1 in 5 adults suffer from some form of mental illness.[i] Nearly one-third of all mental health related office visits are handled by primary care physicians, according to a CDC study in 2019.[ii] That’s if people seek help. Nearly one half (43%) didn’t receive any treatment.

All three of those statistics were pre-pandemic. The world has changed, making mental health and medicine in general accelerate the use of telemedicine and telehealth technologies. The need to expand services where patients can more easily access care has only become more imperative as the nation’s mental health suffers during the pandemic according to the American Medical Association.[iii]

“The majority of psychiatric care now starts in the primary care setting.”

 

Organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness have been advocating mental health screenings by primary care physicians for years.[iv] They advocate that discussions that start here help to relieve personal distress, integrate mental and physical health care, reduces stigma, and more.

What does this mean to primary care physicians, now tasked with screening patients for mental health issues?

Some data exists that primary care practices that integrated behavioral health could increase monthly revenues.[v] And, practices reported seeing improved patient outcomes when care was integrated into the primary care setting.

However, it’s hard enough to get a medical degree. Now you’re being asked to be a psychiatrist for your patients as well. And, as the world becomes more dependent on technologies like telehealth to increase patient ease, comfort and safety the need for mental health screening will only increase.

The pandemic has accelerated the move to remote and technology aided screenings, visits, and diagnosis. Video conferencing, the increase in broadband use (and potential increase under the new administration) mean that more patients than ever—and more every year—will be using these technologies and relying on primary care physicians to screen people’s emotional state for possible health risks.

 

“Most general physicians won’t have training in psychotherapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy.”[vi]

 

It’s not only the pandemic that has medicine facing such dramatic change. Approximately 50% of lifetime mental health conditions begin by age 14[vii] and 75% begin by age 24. The population mix worldwide favors the young, with 40% of the world’s population being under the age of 24.[viii]

The need for mental health in a primary care setting is only going to increase.

The average delay between when symptoms first appear and intervention is approximately 11 years.[ix] So, all of the conditions that are created today will be expressed years from now.

We’re going to need a bigger boat. Like, now. Thankfully we can rely on current screenings methods for—

Oh wait. Maybe we can’t…and shouldn’t…

 

“Approximately 50% of positive screening results in primary care are false positives.”

 

A recent article from Harvard Medical School points out that the screening methods used and approved were not created by mental health professionals or physicians. The most commonly used screening tools for depression in primary care that was developed by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer (PHQ-9).[x] (Dr. Stephanie Collier, MD, MPH).

Understanding emotions is a difficult process and getting a neutral and credible third party to conduct analysis is hard. Sentiment analysis tools only give you “positive,” “negative,” “neutral,” or “mixed” results with confidence, and they omit the very information you need: Are the patients sad, or angry? Are they using humor?

How do you know?

V.E.R.N. can answer that question.

V.E.R.N. AI is a patented emotion detection software that responds in real time. It’s incredibly easy to integrate into your technology, with integrations across many development languages. It can be put into use on old records, analyzing past visits, notes, or other written communication and analyze years of records in a flash. To make the most of its real time feature, V.E.R.N. can be used in screening technology like video conferencing, analyzing online chats, or screening emails.

It can be accessed via API, gaining you the full range of the latest emotion detection protocols. Or, if you desire an on-premise solution or care to deploy it in a ModelOps scenario we have models available in marketplaces specific to their emotion and purpose. For your telehealth/telemedicine initiatives, it can be a key piece of your technology solution.

Emotional intelligence can lower recidivism, helps to increase positive outcomes, and improves healthcare overall. Having a third party may help to lower liability and provides passive observational data on patient interactions.

If you’re going to be tasked with patient’s whole wellbeing, let us help you detect the emotions they’re using to communicate with you. In doing so, we’ll all work together to improve outcomes and reduce pain—in all its forms.

 

Get started with VERN today!

REFERENCES:

[i] https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-by-the-numbers

[ii] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db311.htm

[iii] https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/how-sustain-behavioral-health-care-primary-care-practice

[iv] https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/March-2016/Should-Depression-Screenings-be-a-Part-of-Primary

[v] https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/how-sustain-behavioral-health-care-primary-care-practice

[vi] https://healthtalk.unchealthcare.org/how-a-primary-care-provider-can-help-improve-your-mental-health/

[vii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15939837

[viii] https://www.advocatesforyouth.org/wp-content/uploads/storage//advfy/documents/fsstateworld.pdf

[ix] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361014/

[x] https://postgraduateeducation.hms.harvard.edu/trends-medicine/reassessing-mental-health-screening-primary-care