As in all our care settings, the digi-physical care concept is being explored in the French mental health operations together with the Innovation hub. To learn more, a decision was made to test a video communication tool for group meetings. The objectives were to identify potential value in digital care and understand patient target groups and the operational impact, for example, untraditional hours.
The experiment wanted to test digital evening care for addictology and for depression in younger patients to support them as they phased out of physical care and started going back to work or school. It took place in two clinics: St Barnabé and Trois Cyprès. Patients that fit the requirement (digital literacy, age group, diagnosis, resuming work/study) were identified within each clinic and presented with the opportunity to join a digital experiment. They followed a 45-minute digital group session every Wednesday evening for six weeks.
Before starting the experiment, the predicted challenges were the care format, the lack of digital group care reimbursement, and the facilities' internet access. Did these come true?
Well, the circumstances made it difficult to draw thorough conclusions regarding the aspects of group video follow-ups. But we made some learnings, much regarding the pace we can keep as an organization, the need to shift focus from patient to consumer and increase customer knowledge, and the need to reinforce our strategic vision of digital mental health - including the funding models - and rethink the entire patient journey to ensure we have a global digi-physical value proposition.
Since it took about six months to try out an idea, we need to be selective of the ideas we try out and find ways to crash-test them faster. For example, by patient surveys, mock-ups prototyping, and reusing the tools we have to save time. Early inclusion of all necessary internal functions, for example, IT is key to winning time.
Going digital means new competition. Digital group sessions, and probably care from the home, have new and strong competitors. Moving the patient physically into our clinics is a barrier to entry for other activities; what new barriers can we put up to ensure patient observance and continued focus on care when they are at home? This means understanding our patients not only through the lens of their diagnoses but in all of their life habits and characteristics – as consumers.
It’s about the journey, not the destination. The patient journey needs to be worked on to attract and retain patients in the digital care process. What patients to include when to include them, and to do what.