According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five American adults suffer from a mental illness, and nearly one in 25 are afflicted with a serious mental illness, defined as a serious functional impairment which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. The organization further says that serious mental illness costs the U.S. approximately $193.2 billion in lost earnings annually.
Sobering statistics to be sure, which underscore a situation that can be particularly vexing for primary care providers (PCPs): despite not necessarily being trained in diagnosing and treating mental health issues, some 70 percent of a PCP’s practice involves the management of psychosocial issues ranging from marriage counseling to treatment of anxiety and depression, per the Institute for Behavioral Health Integration.
Addressing the general situation and the PCPs’ plight in particular is Mindyra, a Darien-based technology company that in July announced a proprietary diagnostic assessment and treatment measurement tool that integrates primary and behavioral care.
Mindyra’s online platform is designed to assist family doctors in diagnosing and treating patients with behavioral health issues more efficiently, dramatically reducing the costs associated with mental health care in the workplace in the process.
The patent-pending system includes a testing tool that simultaneously screens for dozens of mental health and learning disability conditions via iPad or mobile device, allowing PCPs to quickly arrive at a more precise diagnosis and treatment plan for patients. The automated workflow analyzes test results and helps guide physicians to the best treatment regimens and most appropriate specialists, while allowing physicians to adjust as needed based on their knowledge of the patient.
Mindyra also provides ongoing tests that assist clinicians and family members in tracking how well a patient is responding to treatment so that they can make necessary modifications in real time.
Among its features, the Mindyra platform offers automated, clinical treatment protocols by diagnostic condition, and treatment progress algorithms which update best practices and care provider rankings, and generate predictive analytics to support treatment. It is also a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-compliant platform for doctors and therapists to share test results with patients and other providers as well as review relevant related reports.
The best facet of the tests, said Mindyra CEO Bill Battey, is that they only take about 10 minutes for a patient to complete.
“There’s no one place to go where you can take a test for over 100 conditions in 10 minutes to find out what’s up,” Battey said. “Our program uses skip logic technology to provide reliable and valid testing for children, adolescents and adults that can lead to better treatment plans.”
Skip logic is a feature that changes what question a respondent sees next based on how they answer the current question. Also known as “conditional branching” or “branch logic,” skip logic creates a custom path through the survey that varies based on a respondent’s answers.
“Research finds that 10 minutes is the optimal time to take such tests before a person gets distracted,” Battey said.
He noted that Mindyra spent nearly a year researching, building and testing the platform before it launched last month.
Both the initial and follow-up tests were co-developed by Dr. Hank Schwartz, chair of Mindyra’s board of advisors. Schwartz, who currently serves as psychiatrist-in-chief at The Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital and as regional vice president of Hartford HealthCare, was co-author of the Sandy Hook Report issued by the Connecticut Office of the Child Advocate in the wake of the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“This is a game-changer for patients, employers, insurers and providers,” Schwartz said of the new tool. “CEOs and health care leaders across the country are realizing that integrating behavioral health and emotional well-being into all health and wellness in the workplace is critical to improving patient outcomes and reducing overall health care costs.
“The Mindyra platform has the potential to drastically improve the quality of care, reduce treatment cycle time and decrease overall health care costs,” he added.
Battey said, “PCPs are on the front line, and they’re the group we’re focused on. They provided the feedback and support that we needed, and we built it to their specifications.”
The first pilot for the platform will launch in the fourth quarter; Battey said that the pilot program will go through the fourth quarter of 2017, with each pilot lasting six months.
Battey’s background is primarily in finance. Before joining Mindyra upon its formation in 2015, he was managing director of Deep Harbor Partners, an investment business focused on direct investment in health care, trust and wealth management, niche manufacturing and technology start-ups; he spent most of his career at Credit Suisse First Boston, where he was managing director. Among his accomplishments there, he developed and ran its new issue debt and syndicate businesses in the Pacific Region.
“All of us at Mindyra had someone in our families — it goes back a few generations for me — who had been affected by mental health issues,” he explained. “Through those experiences, we were aware that there has been a very opaque system built on the old business model of in-person care. We thought there should be a more efficient way of addressing those issues and of obtaining better diagnoses.”