With the promise digital technology brings for cost-efficient and scalable reach, it’s no wonder that there are attempts by multiple players to digitize mental health treatment. Our in-house clinical experts developed BEACON working with global thought leaders and researchers in digitally-delivered CBT. We’ve identified best practices in digital therapy that are critical to having a meaningful impact on peoples’ mental health.
If you are committed to making a digital mental health solution available to people in your organization, here are 4 questions to ask providers to help you determine if the solution is the real deal:
Q1: Is there an initial assessment designed to capture the rich insight needed to personalize care?
Critical to successful onboarding: a rigorous initial assessment
How many questions would it take to get to know you – five? Fifty? How many would it take to able to render a clinical diagnosis? Certainly more than the equivalent of a Buzzfeed quiz. Solutions that under-assess only delay access to appropriate treatment and contribute to increasing distress, disability and economic burden.
In order to provide appropriate care, a care provider needs to understand the problems a person has in context, ideally through an initial rigorous assessment and triage process to appropriate care.
With BEACON, a rigorous online assessment is completed by the client, and then reviewed by a BEACON therapist. Those insights are used to inform a customized treatment path.
Clients also have the option to have a clinical psychologist review the results of the assessment and schedule a real-time telephone diagnostic interview. The results of that assessment can then be shared with the client’s doctor, health care provider, or insurer. Because the assessment is done prior to the diagnostic call, it enables the psychologist to review the results in detail and develop a sense of the presenting problem(s) before speaking with the client.
By taking an informed approach at the start of treatment, clients are getting the care they need for the problem they have, built on an insightful foundation.
Q2: Is the treatment Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?
Critical to successful treatment: high-fidelity to evidence-based protocols
For the percentage of the population with acute mental health issues, receiving professional and targeted treatment is critical. Coaching and support can be inspiring and helpful for the ‘typical’ person, but when mental health issues interfere with healthy daily functioning it’s often a sign that evidence-based therapy is necessary — not generic advice, a motivational workshop, support group, or a pep talk.
Real treatment for people with real problems, not another virtual waiting room.
Many other wellness platforms are not rooted in scientific rigor. BEACON is thoughtfully designed to mirror the gold standard of care provided by a course of CBT treatment. BEACON is not “CBT-based” or “CBT-inspired”; BEACON is CBT.
BEACON assessment results are provided to the user and used to determine the personalized care path. The BEACON therapist can introduce appropriate CBT exercises and modules based on regular communication and weekly outcome measures.
For BEACON users who have undergone a clinical diagnosis, their path will follow treatment protocols designed specifically for depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder.
The effectiveness of CBT in treating mental health conditions has been proven through over 40 years of practice and more than 300 clinical trials. The effectiveness of CBT is dependent on the rigorous use of scientifically validated practices. The results of our BEACON beta trial demonstrate that our digital therapy solution can be as effective as traditional face-to-face therapy.
CBT helps people to challenge and change anxious and negative thoughts, so they can feel better and function better. The goal of CBT is to help clients become their own therapists, practicing exercises and behaviours to move forward and help themselves.
Q3: How will the therapeutic alliance build trust and engagement?
Critical to productive dialogue: form a therapeutic alliance between therapist and client
Some mental health and wellness apps use notifications and bots exclusively to communicate with the user. Other platforms offer support with coaches, or teams of counsellors who have little continuous context with the client; context which is so critical to successful outcomes. Authentic one-on-one interaction is limited, if present at all.
Therapist assisted interventions work. Self-guided or peer support interventions do not.
To build trust and aid engagement, an essential component for effective care is the formation of a therapeutic alliance between the therapist and client.
BEACON provides every individual with a dedicated therapist; a Master’s-level college-regulated therapist assigned to the person from start to finish of treatment. The BEACON therapist can track and adapt modular treatment, tailored to the client’s specific concerns and problems. One size does not fit all, and a dedicated BEACON therapist can understand the path the client has travelled so far.
In BEACON the therapeutic alliance is not formed through messaging interaction alone. The therapist provides essential elements of personalized care: monitoring the pace and completion of homework; adjusting the treatment protocol based on the client’s specific situation and concerns; monitoring progress with regular outcome measures; and providing tailored advice and support through secure asynchronous messaging interactions. The presence of the BEACON therapist creates a ‘high-touch’ level of internet-delivered CBT and results in high client ratings of satisfaction and alliance.
This type of therapist assisted, internet-delivered CBT is known as TAiCBT.
Q4: How are outcomes tracked and measured?
Critical to accountability: symptom reduction and functional improvement measured and reported on validated scales
CBT is a therapy designed with an end of treatment in mind. Along the way, BEACON will provide the client with reports reviewing their symptom reduction, something tangible they can view to mark their progress. Aggregate-level information can be provided (with appropriate consent) to help organizations better understand their workforce.
Data visualizations within the thoughtfully-designed BEACON platform help the client to stay aware of how far they have come from the assessment baseline throughout the course of their treatment. Exercises and conversations with the BEACON therapist can be revisited by the client at any time.
BEACON measures treatment outcomes using validated scales at regular intervals to help tailor treatment, modifying the path to ensure effectiveness. We also provide platform usage and satisfaction measures to organizations.
Typically, people start to improve their ability to manage their mood, thoughts, and feelings within a few weeks of starting BEACON therapy. Clients have unlimited access to their therapist for 12 weeks and to their BEACON resources for a full year.
Mental health innovation built on evidence and best practices
BEACON was thoughtfully designed and tested for its effectiveness mirroring the components critical to providing best-in-class CBT. By identifying critical levers to achieving successful outcomes and having those factors work in conjunction, BEACON is optimized to deliver treatment that truly improves people’s health and quality of life.