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Tag: access to care

Crossing the Digital Divide: A Content Analysis of Mainstream Australian Mental Health Websites for Languages Other Than English

Murray KE, Musumeci CJ, Cassidy E. Crossing the digital divide: A content analysis of mainstream Australian mental health websites for languages other than English. Health Soc Care Community 2022;30(6):e4831-e4839. doi:10.1111/hsc.13890

Online mental health services are an effective way to provide support while individuals wait for access to face-to-face therapeutic care. As the wait time for access to face-to-face mental health care increases, so too does the use of government-sponsored digital mental health platforms. The Australian government funds mental health websites to promote access to these online services. This article assessed the accessibility of these websites for non-English speaking/literate users. Of the thirty-three websites that provided access to mental health tools and educational materials, only four had translation options available. While non-English translation was available on four websites, only two displayed the translation option directly on the homepage. A search was required to access translation options on the other two websites. The authors also assessed websites for inclusion of content tailored to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities. A total of 1100 unique content subsections were found across the 33 websites. Eight subsections were specific to CALD communities and only 9 websites even mentioned CALD communities in relation to mental health. Overall, the authors suggest that digital mental health tools should strive to be more inclusive of language barriers in Australian populations.


Telehealth Opioid Treatment: Advancing the US Prevention Strategy

Article Excerpt: In a significant move to bolster the fight against opioid addition, the Biden-Harris Administration recently celebrated two years of advancements in the Health and Human Services Overdose Prevention Strategy, introducing groundbreaking actions to enhance addiction treatment and save lives. These initiatives, pivotal for the telehealth opioid treatment landscape, signify a transformative approach to substance use disorder treatment, particularly in leveraging telehealth technologies to bridge the treatment gap.

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A Chatbot Helped More People Access Mental-Health Services

Article Excerpt: An AI chatbot helped increase the number of patients referred for mental-health services through England’s National Health Service (NHS), particularly among underrepresented groups who are less likely to seek help, new research has found. Demand for mental-health services in England is on the rise, particularly since the covid-19 pandemic. Mental-health services received 4.6 million patient referrals in 2022—the highest number on record—and the number of people in contact with such services is growing steadily. But neither the funding nor the number of mental-health professionals is adequate to meet this rising demand, according to the British Medical Association. The chatbot’s creators, from the AI company Limbic, set out to investigate whether AI could lower the barrier to care by helping patients access help more quickly and efficiently. A new study, published today in Nature Medicine, evaluated the effect that the chatbot, called Limbic Access, had on referrals to the NHS Talking Therapies for Anxiety and Depression program, a series of evidence-based psychological therapies for adults experiencing anxiety disorders, depression, or both.

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Article Source: MIT Technology Review


What Would Dr. King Say? Fostering an Inclusive Biomedical and Behavioral Research Environment

Article Excerpt: What would Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. say? It’s a good question to ask any time of year, especially this month. We will never know for sure, but he left a legacy of words that can give us clues—and inspiration.

As our nation celebrates the extraordinary life of Dr. King with a federal holiday, speeches, and service, I would like to reflect on Dr. King’s wisdom as it pertains to NIH’s efforts to foster a more inclusive biomedical and behavioral research enterprise.

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Article Source: National Institutes of Health


Bridging the Digital Health Divide: Characterizing Patient Portal Users and Nonusers in the U.S.

Ahmed N, Brown J, Parau C, McCullers A, Sanghavi K, Littlejohn R, Wesley D. Bridging the Digital Health Divide: Characterizing Patient Portal Users and Nonusers in the U.S. Med Care. 2023;61(7):448-455. 

Increasing access to digital patient portals is critical for moving the healthcare field forward. Patient portals reduce overhead and streamline patient and provider access to records and test results while providing secure communications outside increasingly brief face-to-face meetings. Despite the benefits, uptake remains challenging. To understand the differences between users and non-users, 489 self-selecting participants completed an online survey collecting demographic information, participants’ knowledge, skills, and confidence for self-management of chronic conditions (Patient Activation Measure (PAM)), health literacy (BRIEF Health Literacy Screening Tool (BRIEF)), and measures of their media and technology literacy and use (Media and Technology Usage and Attitudes Scale (MTUAS)). Compared to the individuals who did not use patient portals, users were more likely to have formal education after high school (p < 0.001) and live in urban areas (p = 0.03).  Individuals with active health insurance (p < 0.001), a primary care physician (p < 0.001), or disability/chronic conditions (p < 0.001) were more likely to use the patient portal. Individuals who used patient portals showed higher confidence in managing a chronic condition (PAM, p < 0.001) and more positive technology attitudes (MTUAS, p = 0.002) compared to non-users. Contrary to expectations, non-users showed higher health literacy (BRIEF inadequate literacy 61.1%) than users (70.0%). Together this data provides interesting insight into a section of the population familiar with the internet (volunteered for an online survey) but evenly mixed on the use of patient portals (users n = 263, non-users n = 226). Further research is needed to explain why higher health literacy would discourage people from engaging with a patient portal. It is possible, as the authors suggested, that individuals who feel they can accurately read health materials to answer questions they may have about their care would render the portal and unnecessary step in care-management.


Chatbot Therapy Is Risky. It’s Also Not Useless

Article Excerpt: This lack of access, fueled by a nationwide mental health crisis and a shortage of therapists in the US — not to mention a health care system that can, for many, make it extremely difficult to find an in-network provider — is a problem that urgently needs solutions. As with any such problem, there are people out there who say the solution is technology. Enter AI. As Generative AI chatbots have rolled out to a wider range of users, some have started using readily available, multipurpose tools like ChatGPT as therapists.

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Article Source: Vox


Updates in Federal Legislation Addressing Digital Therapeutics, Access to Care

Article Excerpt: Health care legislation has been on hold at the federal level following Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) removal as Speaker of the House. Although legislation cannot currently pass through Congress, important actions around digital therapeutics, access to care, and health care disparities are still important to highlight. In a session at AMCP Nexus 2023, Jennifer Mathieu, MA, senior vice president of professional and government affairs at the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, and Geni Tunstall, JD, director of regulatory affairs at AMCP, discussed federal legislative and regulatory updates that are on the horizon.

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Article Source: AJMC (Also in Pharmacy Times).


Connected Healthcare Strategies to Boost Rural Access, Digital Equity

Article Excerpt: In the post-public health emergency (PHE) landscape, healthcare provider organizations are increasingly focused on incorporating and expanding hybrid, omnichannel, and connected models of care. These models leverage digital tools to enhance patient access and experience through capabilities like online scheduling, telehealth, and remote patient monitoring. However, organizations must ensure that medically underserved populations are not left behind, and health equity remains top-of-mind as connected healthcare efforts proliferate nationwide. At Xtelligent Healthcare Media’s 4th Annual Connected Health Virtual Summit in October, leaders from prominent health systems discussed these themes, delving into the opportunities and challenges of leveraging connected care efforts in underserved areas, as well as the importance of digital health equity and strategies for closing digital health gaps.

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Article Source: mHealth Intelligence


Telehealth Supports Retention in Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

Article Excerpt: Starting buprenorphine treatment for opioid use disorder through telehealth was associated with an increased likelihood of staying in treatment longer compared to starting treatment in a non-telehealth setting, according to a new study analyzing Medicaid data from 2019-2020 in Kentucky and Ohio. Published in JAMA Network Open, these findings add to a growing body of evidence demonstrating positive outcomes associated with the use of telemedicine for treatment of opioid use disorder.

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Article Source: NIDA News