U.S. President Joseph Biden recently gave his first State of the Union address, and we were pleased to see that he devoted a portion of his speech to addressing the mental health crisis—an issue that we at Holmusk see as the defining issue of our generation.
In a press release distributed ahead of Biden’s address, the White House noted that two out of five adults in the U.S. report symptoms of anxiety or depression. We know that these problems are global—with more than 10% of people worldwide living with a mental health condition even prior to the pandemic, which has led to a steadily increasing need for more comprehensive mental health resources.
We congratulate the Biden administration for delineating concrete steps that it will pursue to begin solving these tough problems. The administration’s goal is “to transform how mental health is understood, perceived, accessed, treated, and integrated—in and out of health care settings.” The plan focuses on two broad areas: strengthening system capacity and connecting Americans to care. Its creators have thought outside the box—in this case, outside the clinic—to focus on issues like training, earmarking $700 million to educational programs for providers who will ultimately serve rural, high-need areas.
That said, one of our main recommendations for strengthening system capacity is to further emphasize the importance of improved research infrastructure. Better research leads to discoveries that improve the quality of care. The Biden administration’s plan recognizes this, stating that “there is a pressing need for research to validate what works and build a robust evidence base”—a statement with which we wholeheartedly agree. The plan sets aside $5 million in the FY23 budget for “research into promising models for treating mental health conditions.” While this is an important commitment, substantially more resources will need to be devoted to meaningfully evaluate new models that will actually move the needle to improve care.
We are grateful the need for a robust evidence base has been tapped by U.S. leadership. This need is directly aligned with our mission at Holmusk as we work to build the world’s largest real-world evidence platform for behavioral health. In order to succeed in building a validated evidence base, the nation will need to invest in areas that will make the most impact for patients and improve access to care, such as real-world evidence-based approaches that help us better understand outcomes beyond the clinical trial setting and implementation science studies that teach us how to best integrate and deliver evidence-based care.
As a psychologist, and as the chief medical officer of a company whose mission is to leverage real-world evidence and AI-powered data analytics in the behavioral health space to improve both clinical care and research, I am excited that these topics are being addressed. We strongly believe that several of our top priorities align with national priorities for funding moving forward.
- There is a critical need to increase the uptake of measurement-based care in routine clinical practice. MBC encourages clinicians and patients to use data collaboratively to inform care in an evidence-informed manner. To facilitate MBC, we have created MindLinc 2.0, the premier measurement-based care electronic health record for behavioral health, which is uniquely designed by clinicians to collect better and more complete data to guide care.
- We are also partnering with patients and clinicians in routine care settings, and empowering them to become more active participants in the broader ecosystem of clinical research. We must focus on ways to derive more patient-consented data in ways that are seamless for patients, such as pragmatic studies that draw insights from EHR data routinely collected during their clinical care or from patient-reported outcomes delivered through apps or wearable devices. At Holmusk, we are actively pursuing partnerships that will help us make data more accessible to the patients from whom it is collected.
- We should be using real-world evidence and proven digital technologies to change and improve the conversation around mental and behavioral health. As President Biden’s plan mentions, there is a need for new practice models that will improve quality of life and outcomes for millions of patients. At Holmusk, we know that technology has the power to change mental health care. We’ve invested the time, energy, and funding to identify the challenges in this space, collect the real-world evidence needed, and build new models to address them. Just one example is our NeuroBlu research platform, which provides easy access to millions of real-world data points and equips a range of stakeholders with advanced data analytics capabilities in order to answer challenging questions about mental health care.
We look forward to watching the progress of the Biden administration as it executes on this plan that will take necessary steps forward in improving mental health for all. We also look forward to continuing the conversation and working with patients and their caregivers, advocacy groups, payers and providers, and health care regulators to achieve these goals. These are tough problems that require multifaceted solutions—as well as a lot of work. We have built a team of passionate people with the data analytics and clinical expertise needed to create innovative digital solutions, and our work continues.