Over a year ago, the world shifted utterly when a global pandemic caused a tumultuous financial and emotional crisis in every single nation. As we approach the end of the emergency phase of the pandemic in the United States, at least for now, experts anticipate an impact on people’s long-term mental health. In this frightening scenario, the internet of things (IoT) and automation will play a crucial role in detecting, evaluating, and caring for patients early. 

As mental health cases worldwide are constantly increasing, we’ve chosen to discuss how IoT solutions for mental health care can provide us with new capabilities to face the current challenges. We’ll also discuss the many advantages of automation and the urgent need to redesign mental health management services. 

Technologies assisting professionals and patients with mental conditions 

In an environment of such uncertainty, health professionals are concerned that with the COVID-19 crisis, mental conditions are becoming the leading cause of disability. In fact, the Center of Disease Control and Prevention has reported that 40 percent of U.S. adults are struggling with mental health. The most critical widespread conditions are depression, dementia, and schizophrenia. 

Fortunately, we live during innovative times, and the development of technologies to serve professionals and patients has significantly improved. For example, the impact of IoT, specifically in the mental health care system, has helped monitor and collect a broad spectrum of data. Technologies powered by sensors, such as barometers, accelerometers, magnetometers, gyroscopes, or proximity sensors, among others, generate and collect behavioral and physiological symptomatic data. Collecting real-time information and accessing mood, activity, and behavioral patterns allow doing faster mental health diagnoses and treatments for patients. 

The Internet of Things in mental health care management

IoT systems for mental health and well-being 

Some of the most common mental health conditions addressed by IoT systems implement better and faster solutions. Below we’ll explain some of the technology being used to overcome problems with mental health care system while tracking and measuring mental health data. 

Bipolar disorders 

Watching mood swings through a mobile monitoring system helps collect social and physiological data that doctors can access quickly. The use of smartphones has also helped track patient locations and social activities, detecting signs and patterns that could prevent mental state changes. In addition, wearable devices, such as clothing with sensors or even smartwatches, have become a helpful way to track patient data without being too invasive. However, since mood swings can be affected by sleeping or eating habits, relying solely on the information provided by patients isn’t always practical. IoT platforms have made a significant difference in how doctors and patients receive, evaluate, and treat behavioral patterns. 

Depressive disorders 

Sensory technologies help track body temperature, heart rate, and changes in sweat gland activity that reflect the intensity of depressive symptoms. In this scenario, smartphones evaluate depressive signs based on the functionality of the brain and the amount of time spent on a mobile device. The ubiquitous features of smartphones provide consistent data and monitored behaviors related to depression. 

Schizophrenia spectrum disorder 

A correlation between body movements and disease symptoms of patients with schizophrenia encompasses a smartphone with mobile sensing to address schizophrenic levels. Digital and social interactions also contribute data to help diagnose signs of relapse in patients. 

Stress-related disorders 

IoT-related technologies play a significant role in contributing to new ways of approaching stress-related disorders. For example, one determining physiological factor in measuring stress levels is our voice. Therefore, smartphones and wearable devices can collect voice data and report levels of anxiety or other signals. Other devices used with IoT technology are smart-bands, which can monitor sweat gland activity. Since skin conductance indicates psychological or physiological arousal, smart-bands can help detect a patient’s level of stress. Continuous data collection helps better understand patterns of behavior and prevent future setbacks. 

These automated technologies can detect, report, and collect data to provide detailed information that contributes to a better and faster diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders. In addition, automation is making a difference in mental health management. Below we’ll discuss some of the benefits that automation grants to clinicians and doctors. 

IoT and automation in mental health care during COVID-19

Benefits of automation in mental health 

With doctors and therapists employing IoT technologies, access to consistent data allows them to utilize automation systems to treat patients adequately. With these changes, clinics are evolving in the way they operate. In addition, automation in mental health management services offers the opportunity to spend less time on administrative tasks, allowing health professionals to use their time on more significant matters. If you’re still wondering how automation can benefit your practice, these are some trends that you might find extremely helpful: 

  • Management apps. After collecting data from IoT-based devices, management apps help therapists evaluate their patients’ progress. Waiting times between appointments can take longer depending on patients’ needs. However, by keeping track of behavior, symptoms, and habits through management apps, diagnoses become faster and more accurate. 
  • Administrative help. Scheduling can become a real burden, but with automated systems, patients can schedule their own appointments. Significantly, a virtual assistant could help decrease administrative costs. 
  • Client record tracking. When records are automated, it’s much easier to access past symptoms, evaluate progress, or even realize mood changes according to yearly seasons or events. 
  • Storing data. Although digital storage requires safety and privacy measures, it has become more secure than paper records. In addition, automated backups help store patient records to an encrypted cloud storage system, making it easier to access and respond to record requests. 
IoT apps for mental healthcare management

Redesigning mental health care 

With the help of remote monitoring through healthcare devices, redesigning mental health care systems becomes inevitable. With good reason, because IoT and automation have enabled quantitative and actionable insights that offer solutions to various healthcare problems. As a result, technology is evolving the healthcare industry from a hospital management system to a patient-focused operation. The advantages of such changes will become evident as services and caregivers embrace technology. Healthcare institutions of all sizes that have implemented automation systems have gained significant operational efficiency and patient satisfaction. 

At TEAM International, we have developed various automation systems for the healthcare industry. Let us know your questions and contact us to receive more information.