PEDIATRIC PSYCHIATRY
Expertise:
PROs, Psychiatry, Human Centered Design
Areas of Focus:
Healthcare Technology, Design and Development
Partner:

A Human-centered App Delivering Quality Psychiatric Care in 48-hours

Recognizing the need for mental healthcare and seeking treatment can be difficult enough, but recently the bigger challenge has been getting an appointment with a mental health practitioner. PsyCom reports there are only 9 psychiatrists per 100,000 people in the U.S., and 60% of U.S. counties have no practicing psychiatrists. The stress of COVID-19 has only made matters worse; a 2020 study by the American Psychological Association reported psychiatrists were seeing 74% more patients for anxiety disorders and 60% more patients for depression since the onset of the pandemic. Between the scarcity of psychological providers and the increased demand for mental healthcare, wait times for psychiatric appointments have surged.

Unfortunately, the statistics are even more grave for child and adolescent psychiatry. According to Pediatrics Nationwide, there are 7.7 million children in the U.S. with a mental health condition, only 49% of which receive care. Due to the difficulty in finding and scheduling an appointment with a practicing child or adolescent psychiatrist, close to 75% of mental health conditions are identified by a child’s primary care physician (PCP), 61% of which are misdiagnosed.  

A Human-Centered Design Approach

Our partner set out to improve child and adolescent mental healthcare by ameliorating the most common barriers to treatment:

  • 6-8 month wait times for an appointment
  • High out-of-pocket consultation fees
  • Inefficient provider workflow

The sensitive nature of child/adolescent psychiatry and the many regulatory hurdles made a telehealth alternative to traditional psychiatric care especially challenging, but Vessel Partners’ human-centered approach to app design was uniquely suited to the challenge.

Human-centered design consists of three phases modeled over design thinking: inspiration, ideation, implementation.

Inspiration begins with empathy and ends with a clear definition of the problem you want to solve. In the case of Bend Health, we began our process by interviewing team members, key stakeholders, psychiatrists, and market experts to thoroughly understand clinical needs in child and adolescent healthcare. By the end of this initial phase, the inspiration was clear: we needed to develop a consumer-grade approach that made psychiatric care fast, easy, and comfortable for the whole family. We also needed to ensure the clinical team had everything they needed to provide the highest quality of care.

In the ideation phase, we relied on close communication to steer development and adopted a rapid prototyping process to allow for constant iteration. In our weekly meetings with Bend Health stakeholders, we shared design and interface updates, and collected feedback to inform further prototyping. We continued this process until we were confident in the Bend Health app’s usability and efficacy.

Finally, we implemented the app with extensive user testing and strategic marketing. This is an ongoing process; as patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) and user feedback roll in, we continue to optimize onboarding and retention to improve the user experience. The result of this hands-on approach is a user-friendly app capable of addressing the child/adolescent mental health crisis through fast, efficient care and more accurate diagnostic measures.

“The effort speaks for itself and we were able to get to market much more quickly and economically than alternative vendors and/or development decisions.”
 - Startup CEO

Asynchronous Mental Healthcare

After extensive interviews, academic research, and user testing, Vessel Partners helped this startup realize its vision with a pair of telehealth apps designed to promote an efficient, asynchronous flow between patient intake and psychiatric treatment.  

The patient-facing app facilitates a user-friendly — but comprehensive — intake process that leverages medical records with patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) and validated survey responses to provide key details for a psychiatrist to review. The provider-facing app enables the psychiatrist to process the patient’s intake information, collaborate with the patient’s PCP, make a diagnosis, and prescribe treatment asynchronously. The efficiency of the intake process and this streamlined diagnostic flow has enabled Bend Health to deliver accurate child and adolescent psychiatric diagnoses within 48-hours in 33 states. Perhaps the most important metric of all is that preliminary outcomes show patients’ symptoms are improving. Investors are responding to these encouraging results — our partner recently closed a $4.5 million funding rounding with strategic investors.

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