Healthcare systems are already reaping the benefits of artificial intelligence platforms and systems. Now many experts are predicting that mental healthcare services can also take advantage of some of AI’s ability to quickly analyze data and raise alerts faster than healthcare providers.
In general healthcare, AI has been supporting providers with interpreting medical scans, spotting anomalies and diagnosing disease rapidly, helping doctors provide more effective treatment plans that lead to improved patient outcomes. In the field of mental healthcare globally, usually, patients can meet their providers only occasionally. It is also not possible for healthcare providers to constantly stay in touch or monitor their patient’s progress or deterioration. Further, many have little or no access to mental healthcare providers. Here is where AI can help.
AI can help mental health clinics bridge this gap and make diagnosis faster. AI-driven apps or programs could also likely enable mental healthcare providers to monitor their patients remotely in between appointments and raise alerts.
Then there are app-based mood trackers like Woebot, developed by a team of Stanford psychologists and AI experts. It combines chatbot, AI and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help people manage their mental health by themselves. Woebot, which has a paid subscription model, uses daily chats, mood tracking, videos, and word games to engage with users to help them manage their depression and anxiety from the privacy of their home. Their studies show that this kind of a chatbot app can be an engaging, and effective way to deliver CBT, especially since for many, asking for mental health services can be stigmatizing.
Analysis of text and written language is being seen as one of the key areas where AI can help psychiatrists, counsellors and therapists. These can be therapeutic assistants, which support the clinicians, rather than provide treatment by themselves. Studies have shown that machine learning algorithms that are trained to assess word selection by patients can help clinicians register any warning bells in a patient’s written note. The app Thearchat, for example, has a customizable chatbot that analyzes the text conversation for positive and negative words used by the patient. This provides the therapist with an extremely detailed analysis which will help them diagnose faster and provide more targeted treatment plans.
Additionally, the data from wearable devices like sleep and physical activity trackers can be analyzed by AI to provide psychiatrists and therapists with valuable insights.
While there are legitimate privacy concerns, the growing popularity of these devices and apps suggest that people are willing to put a premium on instant access to a mental healthcare service provider via text or video call. Also, with the pandemic forcing most healthcare providers and patients to connect remotely as far as possible, these apps and platforms may emerge as a useful and timely support to the healthcare system and individuals alike.