Since 2018, PsyQ Online offers complete online specialised mental healthcare (SGGZ) treatments for patients with anxiety, trauma, PTSD , and depression. Contact between the practitioner and the patient doesn’t take place in the treatment room, but online. For the online treatment, PsyQ Online uses the NiceDay app. The unique NiceDay concept consists of technology (app for the patient, web portal for the practitioner) and the treatment method (procedure, psychological education, blogs). The app provides the patient with insight into their thoughts and behaviour. And personal pitfalls are discovered through tracking emotions, lifestyle components, and challenges in the concept. Through NiceDay, contact with the personal psychologist is always closely: it enables the practitioner to maintain a more intensive and direct contact with the patient through video calls and chats. “The patient can easily and quickly get in contact with a professional; not during the next “regular” appointment, but at the time and place they need them. The therapeutic relationship is better, which contributes to the recovery. NiceDay is also a digital support for practitioners, which leads to a better quality of healthcare and a reduction in healthcare costs,” poses Jan Peter Larsen, Managing Director of NiceDay Healthcare.
The online clinic was created through a close collaboration between PsyQ and NiceDay Healthcare. “The reason PsyQ began PsyQ Online was the lack of successful embedding of eHealth applications in the daily treatment of our patients. Formerly, the emphasis was on innovation, rather than implementation. It seemed logical to us to continue with NiceDay Healthcare, since we were already working together for the development of other eHealth applications. The technology from the IT supplier and knowledge surrounding treatment methods from the mental health care provider lead us to a 1+1=3 sum in this phase,” explains Annet Spijker, director of healthcare i-psy PsyQ Brijder/Parnassia Groep.
During the development of the service, explicit choices were made. The first step was taken with a group of enthusiasts. A separate team was created, outside of the existing organisational structures, to continue development on the concept. In doing so, a healthcare-oriented vision was followed, in order to truly create a wave of digitalisation with which the patient gains more and more control. The starting point wasn’t the existing healthcare trajectories, but creating a complete service that merges technology and proven methods, in order to reform mental healthcare. Spijker: “In the first phase, the emphasis was on the quality of the care, and creating trust in the online treatment as a fully-fledged treatment. In doing so, we also narrowed down the scope of the application, and only focussed on a number of treatment options within the SGGZ. Certainly at the start, these helped gain experience safely with online treatments.” It was perhaps assumed that the rest would follow suit, but much attention had to be paid to drawing in and enthusing practitioners. Larsen: “In its first year, the online clinic didn’t surpass the level of video calling. Therefore, it required quite some perseverance.” The delve into the application was eventually made possible with training, education, a dashboard, and tools that unburden the practitioner. Future practitioners must also stay included in this variation of mental healthcare.
The next step was the regional scale-up of the online regional clinics. That scale-up meant the separation of management structures. Financiers like DSW and ASR believed in the initiative, and provided fitting remuneration to make online care possible. “Once upon a time, we began without a business case, and implemented riskily. Eventually, we received an NZa-betaaltitel for the app (allowing it to be reimbursed by insurance providers) , but that took about two or three years, too. An online mental healthcare clinic also required a shift in thinking with insurance providers,” Spijker states. By now, the online clinic has been rolled out within PsyQ, so that more patients, and other kinds of patients, can actively use it. In order to maintain the operating mechanisms and effectiveness, research is currently being prepared. However, the first findings, after two years of online treatment in mental healthcare, are promising. “It’s not suitable for all people, and we will have to determine what is fitting for each target audience. We shouldn’t be blinded by the shape, and should ask ourselves more often why we still do things in person,” says Larsen. Within PsyQ Online’s target audience, 70% of contact already takes place online. And, driven by COVID-19, the interest in the online clinic has only increased. The coming period, PsyQ Online will continue to work hard in order to eventually develop a blended model with more control for the patient, and in order to make mental healthcare more personal, preventative, and predictive, using these kinds of online services. Larsen: “But the current business model is to cure people when they are ill. We will need to build a business model around health in order to truly progress in the area of prevention.”