March 16, 2021

Dallas Innovates: Alison Leonard on Technology Advancing Mental Health Treatment

Our Dallas Mental & Behavioral Health Leader shares tech advances and possibilities that can propel mental healthcare forward in a post-pandemic world.

In the piece, Alison details how the pandemic has made mental healthcare more accessible, and that momentum should continue with new technology platforms and resources that can better treatment, prevention and maintenance. She also details how technology can improve the building design of new and existing mental healthcare facilities, and thus improve patient outcomes.

On telehealth:

“Hybrid [in person and telehealth] models should be the norm moving forward, with clinical spaces that can be used for both in-person and telehealth appointments. Regular telehealth check ins with a familiar provider can help patients adhere to medications, report new symptoms and avoid admission or readmission to inpatient or emergency room care. ”

On patient safety:

A recent study of behavioral health inpatients with a high risk of violence used a smartphone that enabled behavioral sensing and the ability of patients to report their current state and context without having to summarize past feelings or events. It found loud inpatient unit conditions and lack of variability in physical activity, among other symptoms, to be linked with violence in these inpatients. Technology like this could signal when a patient is potentially in a triggering environment, and can shape the design of future spaces around access to the outdoors and physical activity as well as private, quiet spaces.”

On circadian lighting:

“Preliminary research also shows controllable LED lighting set to a natural circadian rhythm cycle can support positive outcomes in behavioral health settings and also create a calming effect in common areas like dining rooms or activity spaces. It is thought that the predictable lighting system not only helps patients sleep better, it helps them mark the passage of time and create a consistently calm atmosphere towards the end of the day.”

Read the full piece that also includes Alison’s thoughts on symptom trackers, biotech innovations and more.

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