Utah SmartCare: Living In Utah With Depression? There’s An App For That

Ginger.io, a behavior health analytics startup company, just announced Utah SmartCare, a platform that will help low-income residents in Utah who suffer from depression and other mental health problems. Utah SmartCare uses mobile technology and predictive analytics gathered from “the way a patient interacts on their smartphone to detect warning signals in behavior,” according to Tech Crunch. Using a Utah SmartCare phone app, patients will answer a short series of questions daily, according to the Association for Utah Community Health (AUCH). If something is amiss about the way the patient is interacting with their smartphone, a healthcare provider is alerted immediately.

“This new technology allows us to touch base with clients as they experience increased stress, rather than after the fact,” Juergen Korbanka, Executive Director of Wasatch Mental Health in Utah, explained. “This will enable us to respond more quickly and avoid more complex interventions.”

Depression and suicide are major social problems in Utah, with statistics much higher than the rest of the nation. In Utah, antidepressants are prescribed almost twice the national average. One in five women in Utah use antidepressants, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

“We’re already receiving great feedback from clients enrolled in the program,” Brandon Hatch, executive director of Davis Behavioral Health, which participates in the Utah SmartCare initiative, explained. “This data will allow us to better assess how our clients are doing between appointments and catch any potential problems earlier, leading to better clinical outcomes.”

Utah SmartCare is funded by grants from Cambia Healthcare Foundation and local supporters and strives to improve the quality and reduce the costs of health care for low-income and underserved people in Utah. Eighty percent of the initially targeted patients will have both mental and physical health concerns, and 80 percent are currently at or below poverty levels.

“The project offers an innovative approach to improving communication not only between patients and providers, but also between mental and physical healthcare teams,” Alan Pruhs, Executive Director at AUCH stated. “Innovative approaches like this are crucial to the successful integration of physical and mental health.”

Utah SmartCare has teamed up with three Utah-based mental health authorities and two health clinics. Weber Human Services, Davis Behavioral Health, Wasatch Mental Health, Mountainlands Family Health Center, and Midtown Community Health Center are all participating in Utah SmartCare.

Utah SmartCare allows mental health patients the ability to stay connected to their healthcare providers on an ongoing basis in between professional visits, according to Ginger.io.

[Photo adapted via TechCrunch]

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