Candesic: One click away from a global market

Digitalisation mental health Candesic article

Technology is a useful tool in mental as well as physical health and providers can pursue a global strategy, argues Candesic’s Dr Michelle Tempest.

Read the full text here (pdf). 

Let me start by declaring a bias on this topic. I used to work in a hospital as a psychiatrist and as a result am all too aware of the intricate link between physical and mental health. What is clear is the global tsunami of increasing mental health issues both clinical and subclinical. This article tackles how suited psychiatry is to globalisation and if technology has the ability to quell this growing demand.


With technology on the healthcare international horizon, will this help the globalisation of mental health?

For the nay sayers out there who say that mental health is too complex to ever be solved by robots or technology, let’s remember world famous chess player Garry Kasparov who said that IBM’s chess computer would and could never beat him. Well, that was until 1997, when IBM’s deep blue did just that. Modern medicine now has IBM’s Dr Watson which has a much harder task to predict and diagnose the human body than the 32 chess pieces. But it has started to out-smart some doctors. In terms of the digitisation of mental health, it has started to skyrocket and is shaking up the system.

Figure 3 (above) looks at the businesses in this space. The horizontal axis divides the players into self-help, assessment and talking therapy – making the distinction between algorithm computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to interacting with a qualified therapist. On the far right are companies like Ginger who offer an online consultation with a psychiatrist. The flag shows the country of origin. The size of the bubble shows the size of company. The vertical axis illustrates how long the business has been around – so the top of chart are the more mature companies. Some of these technology businesses have struggled cross borders due to language barriers, but others have started to show some pretty good outcomes.

Another e-mental health platform and cloud-based solution is Karify. Based in the Netherlands it is already delivering new models of care in over 450 clinics combining face to face meetings with online exercises, tailored medical information and ways to communicate safely. It is enabling the caregiver to create behavioural change through feedback, monitoring, and big data. Joris Moolenaar, chief executive of Karify said: “I believe that digital health is like the new super power of mental health care, Karify gives a psychologist a better view of the patients’ challenges, engages with and helps you to change behaviour more actively, while the patient is more engaged in treatment.”


What’s interesting about this nascent mental health technology market is that it could augment the current creaking state systems and bring lots of different parties together. Providers have the opportunity to work in collaboration with these businesses, and investors have the opportunity to invest in unicorns or to roll up current fragmented services into community mental health provision. It’s also a pending issue global governments are seeking solutions for. So, these technologies could lead to the creation of the first pan-European or even global psychiatry business.

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