Remote mental health and addictions program not a replacement for in-person treatment, hospital says

SAH is the first healthcare facility in North America to use SeamlessMD mental health and addiction treatment

We all know about online banking and shopping, but now Sault Area Hospital (SAH) is adding online mental health and addiction help for patients in need.

SAH, as previously reportedhas created a Mental Health and Addiction Remote Care Monitoring (MH&A RCM) program in collaboration with SeamlessMD to serve vulnerable patients in and around Sault Ste. Maria.

“Using SeamlessMD, MH&A patients at SAH can access digital care plans using their own device (smartphone, tablet, computer),” SAH said in a statement.

However, that does not mean that SAH mental health and addiction patients without such devices will be overlooked.

“The decision to access this program is made together with the patient and their doctor. The patient only requires a smartphone, tablet or computer. As this program progresses, we will explore options for those with technology barriers,” SAH spokeswoman Brandy Sharp Young said in an email.

It also doesn’t mean the Mental Health and Addiction Remote Care Monitoring program is a replacement for in-person care at SAH, Sharp Young said.

“The care team will ensure that this tool is appropriate as part of the patient’s care plan. One of the goals of remote care monitoring is to help people access the right level of care. Remote care monitoring will help enrollees determine what type of care is most appropriate for their current needs (i.e. contacting a self-help group, routine or urgent appointment with their counselor, primary care provider or specialist)”.

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SAH began enrolling patients in the program on February 1.

“Although it is too early to measure the effectiveness of this remote approach, we are measuring patient engagement and patient-reported satisfaction with their use of SeamlessMD, as well as the impact this program is having on ED visits and admissions,” Sharp Young said.

The program includes:

  • An expert-approved educational library, with content covering a wide range of MH&A topics, including medications, therapy, coping strategies, and harm reduction tactics;
  • Local and online resources for MH&A, as well as resources for practical areas like housing and food access;
  • daily positive affirmations and daily gratitude journaling exercises;
  • Daily self-care reminders, including reminders to take medications, manage withdrawal symptoms, and exercise;
  • Daily health checks for patients to monitor mood, substance use, use of coping skills, medication adherence, withdrawal symptoms, sleep, and other self-care items through surveys. Once the surveys are completed, they are given recommendations for self-care, including coping strategies, calling a crisis service or going to the Emergency Department in more serious situations;
  • A weekly goal setting module for patients to set goals for recovery; Y
  • A bi-weekly health check for patients to track symptoms over time and flag any problems accessing transportation, housing, or food.

SAH is testing the program in the hope that it will become a permanent tool in the toolbox for treating patients with mental health and addiction issues.

“We are testing this program with the intention of making it permanent. We will continually monitor the program and evaluate its effectiveness in the future,” said Sharp Young.

The program at SAH has been introduced with the help of funding from the provincial government.

Sault Area Hospital (SAH) is the first health care system in North America to launch SeamlessMD, according to a statement.

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