The Patients are Losing Patience: User insights on navigating and redesigning mental health care services for accessibility and effectiveness

Mark Freeman mwfreeman@gmail.com
Justin Lai jlai3@stanford.edu

Abstract

In the United States this year, people will make over 63 million visits just to physician’s offices, emergency departments, and hospital outpatient services with the primary goal of getting help for their mental health issues. That doesn’t even include all of the visits to psychologists, counsellors, and other community supports. These journeys to find help are largely hidden from public discourse. We don’t like to talk about getting help for our mental health. We don’t publicly share the positive or negative experiences we have in the system. But that creates challenges for designing a more effective and accessible mental health care system--if we don’t know how patients are navigating the system and whether it’s meeting their needs, it’s difficult to design patient-centered services.

With those challenges in mind, Mark and Justin will share data and recommendations from two projects examining the design of mental health services through the first-hand experiences of patients.

Mark, an ePatient Scholar, peer support worker, and design thinking workshop facilitator, will share data collected from a project he leads in Toronto, Canada: The City of Brains Project. Recognizing that people can often spend months or even years on wait-lists, bouncing around services in search of effective help, this project collects personal stories from patients and then shares the stories and data to support others in finding effective, accessible help more quickly. In the presentation, Mark will share key insights gathered from the project, highlights from patient stories, visuals from journey mapping workshops conducted with patients, as well as simple recommendations to consider when designing effective mental health care services.

Justin, a health care designer at Stanford Medicine X, will be discussing and introducing methods to design thinking and user experience, highlighting specific design initiatives undertaken at Medicine X in the past year. He will also be highlighting his own experience in 2017, seeking out mental health professionals and the barriers to entry he discovered as a patient.

Attendees at the presentation will gain an understanding of:
* The needs of patients seeking mental health services.
* Specific design thinking concepts applied to case studies on barriers to access for mental health services .
* Data on the common challenges patients are encountering when navigating mental health services.
* Supports that patients identified as being key in finding effective, accessible help.
* Based on our data, three recommendations for improving design of mental health services to help overcome barriers to access and treatment program adherence.
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