Rise in digital health technologies

Categories: social, technology
Tags: mental health, health

What? A variety of digital technologies are offering an effective alternative to in-person mental health care, and counselling and pain management. For example, a text messaging-based teen crisis support-line uses algorithms to read the texts, triage patients and link them with counsellors who provide support via text. This service has yielded extremely data-rich mental health trends. Similarly, virtual reality (VR) simulations are being used to treat patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and those with severe paranoia. VR is also being used for pain-reduction with burn victims. By distracting them during treatment, VR games reportedly reduce pain levels up to 50- percent, on par with many pharmaceutical painkillers.

So what? These types of digital technologies may offer a cost-effective means to treat people, particularly those in rural or remote regions.  The anonymity of the technology may also help those who are traditionally reluctant to seek out mental health help. While the technology may replace some traditional functions offered by medical personnel, it can provide valuable data and free up healthcare providers to focus on counselling, comfort and treatment with a human touch.

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