Each year, almost four million Australians experience mental health issues – that’s one in five of us. What’s worse is that only half of this number receive help in the form of mental health treatment.
It’s not uncommon to have to wait weeks or even months to see a mental health professional.
Ingrid Ozols became a mental health advocate after her firsthand experience with mental health providers, on her own behalf and on that of loved ones, made clear to her that an under-resourced system is letting people down.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2014). Australia’s Health 2014. AIHW: Canberra.
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2009). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 4326.0, 2007. ABS: Canberra.
Department of Health and Ageing. (2013). National Mental Health Report 2013: tracking progress of mental health reform in Australia 1993 – 2011. Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.
This is why PwC has collaborated with the University of Sydney to create InnoWell, an innovative joint venture that aims to use technology to help medical professionals and health providers better connect with and monitor the people that use their services.
The venture has created the InnoWell Platform, which provides medical professionals and health services with tools to better understand where the person using their service is at and track their progress.
For health providers, it provides crucial information they can use to triage patients, ensuring those with the most immediate need are seen first. It also allows them to monitor the effectiveness of treatments and programs to aid their decision making for the future.
Ms Ozols joined InnoWell's Lived Experience Advisory Working Group as one of a number of mental health advocates who wanted to use their experiences to help shape better treatment opportunities for others.
Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Mental Health Services in Australia, Workforce, Prevalence of specialist mental health professionals, by Remoteness, 2015.
When a health service uses InnoWell, people seeking an appointment for the first time are given access to the technology platform where they can answer a number of scientifically-backed questions designed to assess their mental health needs – whether or not they are having suicidal thoughts, whether they are experiencing anxiety or depression, whether substance abuse is a factor or not.
Armed with that information, health providers are able to triage people according to their needs and match them with the right professional. The platform allows clinicians to see a person's responses, giving them a clearer picture of their present condition before the first appointment.
Another challenge with the status quo is the lack of communication between clinicians and the people they treat, with there often being no engagement between appointments.
That's a problem InnoWell can help solve by enabling clinicians to track a person's progress in the community once treatment starts and allowing them to stay in regular contact.
Kristin Stubbins, Partner, PwC Australia
Healthcare providers often have little information about the success, or otherwise, of the treatments and programs they offer.
"The health system currently does not effectively track the outcomes of the provision of mental health services," says PwC Australia Partner Kristin Stubbins.
InnoWell changes that, giving providers valuable data about how well particular approaches are faring. Armed with better information, they will be able to make better decisions about how to allocate resources in the future.
"Now they'll be able to see basically, this treatment worked, or it didn't work, but also this approach in Sydney compared to this approach in Coffs Harbor had very different outcomes. Why is that? How do we investigate that? This private hospital in Melbourne versus this one in Sydney is doing much better, what are they doing that we can learn from?" Ms Stubbins says.
"So, it's really about transforming care."
Find out more about how the University of Sydney and PwC Australia worked together to bring you InnoWell.