Isolation and loneliness due to the COVID-19 pandemic have caused stress, anxiety, and depression, generating a significant need for solutions to manage the lack of physical access to therapy and treatment. Frost & Sullivan estimates global investments of nearly $1.4 billion in 2020 for health-tech companies in the mental health management sector, with about 75% of it directed to the U.S. market.
"The silver lining from the pandemic has been the realization of the benefits and the deployment of various digital health solutions to manage the burden of chronic conditions. Consequently, investors have been extremely bullish on digital health, and this area has seen record investments in the first half of 2020 alone," said Chandni Mathur, Digital Health Senior Industry Analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
Five key technologies supporting mental health management:
- Telehealth: Video consultations play a crucial role in continuing treatment and therapy sessions. There has been widespread adoption of telehealth services, and it is useful in disease management. Reimbursements for teleconsultations have also been a key driver. In 2020, the telehealth market is likely to experience a tsunami of growth, resulting in a year-over-year increase of 64.3% in the United States.
- Patient engagement tools such as mobile apps and portals: Mental health apps are useful in lessening the symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. Frost & Sullivan estimates there are over 10,000 consumer-facing mobile apps globally, and not all are leveraged and promoted by healthcare providers.
- Data analytics: Healthcare data gathered by telehealth and mobile app solutions must be converted into insights to offer a customized and preventive care approach.
- Artificial intelligence: AI-powered chatbots can screen for symptoms, provide feedback, and connect patients to psychiatrists for counseling or treatment.
- Virtual reality: Gamification offers an immersive experience to increase the overall effectiveness and adherence to treatments. Patients can navigate through the simulation to achieve a task as part of their treatment plan.
"We will continue to see investments in telepsychiatry and healthcare applications that can collect patient data on their condition and outcomes," said Mathur. "There is high demand for more holistic and scalable platform-based solutions. The ability for vendors to demonstrate clinical evidence and address the full spectrum, including most complex mental health conditions, will be critical for success. In addition, the technological intervention cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. With every patient having a unique condition, social status and requirement, personalized digital treatment plans will be important."