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The Role of Technology in Mental Health Practice: 6 Essential Tools for Practitioners

    Even without the help of statistical data, it’s easy to see the shift in the conversation around mental health over the past decade. More and more people are realizing the need to take care of their mental health, especially after the recent pandemic. This is a golden opportunity for mental health professionals to expand their businesses. But as we all know, not every therapist will succeed in doing that.

    The Bureau of Labour Statistics notes that the bottom 10% of psychologists in the US make $47,850, and the top 10% make $133,890 a year. What is the reason behind this difference? 

    Discounting the fact that some are simply better at their jobs and some practice in more affluent locations, a major point of difference is the proper utilization of technology. 

    This article aims to reduce that gap.

    Teletherapy Platforms

    Teletherapy platforms have become increasingly popular in recent years, and even more so since the COVID-19 pandemic began. These platforms, such as Zoom, allow mental health providers to conduct therapy sessions with their clients remotely, making therapy more accessible to those unable to attend in-person sessions due to distance, time constraints, or other barriers. 

    During the pandemic, the only form of counseling available was online. However, the American Psychological Association notes that even after the pandemic, 96% of mental health professionals are providing some sort of remote services. It can help clients with mobility issues or scheduling challenges and people who simply prefer the comfort of their room during a session. 

    Electronic Health Record 

    Electronic health records (EHRs) are electronic versions of traditional paper-based medical records. In mental health practice, EHRs are commonly used to keep track of client information, such as medical histories, diagnoses, and treatment plans. 

    EHRs allow mental health providers to access client information quickly and securely from anywhere, making it easier to coordinate care between providers and ensure continuity of care. However, according to Behavioural Health Business, only 46% of psychiatric hospitals use EHR software, compared to 96% of general hospitals. This gap will probably close as more and more practices realize their benefits. 

    Additionally, this gap will reduce as therapists realize how EHRs help reduce errors, improve client communication, and streamline administrative tasks such as billing and insurance claims. Overall, EHRs are an essential tool for mental health practitioners to manage client information more efficiently and provide higher-quality care.

    Practice Management Solutions

    A mental health practice management solution is a type of software used by mental health providers to manage administrative tasks such as appointment scheduling, billing, and insurance claims. It is also used to manage client information, schedule appointments, and send appointment reminders, reducing the likelihood of missed appointments. 

    Some solutions often provide additional information. Owl Practice, for example, is one such software provider. Owl Practice’s solution allows practitioners to create client profiles, message their clients through HIPPA-compliant portals, take handwritten notes through a stylus, and keep track of couples and family counseling. 

    Understand the different features and the ease of use a practice management solution offers before using it. 

    Online Assessment Tools

    Online assessment tools are digital tools that mental health providers use to assess their clients’ mental health status and diagnose mental health disorders. These tools are usually administered through a secure online platform, and clients can complete them at home or in the office before their appointment. 

    Online assessment tools can be used to screen for a variety of mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These tools can help mental health providers quickly identify potential mental health issues, provide accurate diagnoses, and develop more effective treatment plans. 

    Mobile Apps

    Mobile apps for mental health have become increasingly popular recently, offering a convenient way for people to access mental health resources and support on the go. According to the Business Research Company, these apps occupied a market size of $5.5 billion in 2022 but are expected to reach $11.6 by 2027, growing at a compound rate of 16.3% per year.

    These apps can provide a range of mental health resources, including relaxation exercises, meditation, and stress reduction techniques. Many mental health apps also offer self-help modules that let users identify and manage symptoms of mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. 

    Additionally, some apps offer peer support and connection to mental health professionals. Popular mental health apps include Headspace, Calm, and BetterHelp, among others. However, while these apps can be a helpful addition to traditional mental health treatment, they are not intended to replace professional mental health care altogether. 

    E-Prescribing Systems

    E-prescribing systems are digital systems that allow mental health providers to prescribe medications and view a patient’s medication history electronically. These systems are designed to improve medication safety and streamline the prescription process, reducing the likelihood of medication errors and improving the quality of care. 

    Additionally, e-prescribing systems can help mental health providers meet legal requirements for prescribing controlled substances, such as opioids. E-prescribing systems are a valuable tool for mental health providers to improve medication safety, streamline the prescription process, and provide higher-quality care to their patients.

    The point of technology is to take the workload off of our hands and pick up the slack where we fall short. The adoption of modern technology in mental health care will only be effective if therapists adopt a modern outlook as well. If you have steered away from incorporating tech innovations into your practice so far, hopefully, this article has provided you with the motivation to do so right away.