In 2015, CarePlus was selected for a competitive grant opportunity through the Cardinal Health Foundation to fund the CarePlus Client Cloud project, which in its early stages has already produced positive outcomes for participants. The organization is seeking to expand the reach of this project so that more individuals can benefit from the use of technology in behavioral healthcare.
The grant, which was awarded in March 2015, provided funding for the purchase, distribution, and utilization of tablets and Smart Boards for select individuals enrolled in CarePlus’ Partial Care or Behavioral Health Home services. CarePlus then created the “Client Cloud”, a simple webpage which allows participants to easily navigate to a number of resources, including their electronic health records, health tracking tools, educational materials, and general articles on mind and body wellness.
The vision for the Client Cloud project is for all individuals enrolled in intensive services at CarePlus to have access to technology tools and digital resources, allowing them to take a more active role in their health management. These resources also help the organization to attain important care management goals such as decreasing excessive and avoidable Emergency Room hospitalization and ambulatory costs, creating successful outcomes, as well as new levels of engagement and participation in wellness programs.
In addition to the acquisition of tools, the project also includes an educational group – the “Technology for Wellness” group – that teaches the individuals how to use the devices. In a baseline assessment, it was determined that 67% of the group had never used a tablet, and that 22% had used technology to monitor health conditions. The follow-up evaluation showed that 100% of the group had used tablets to monitor their health conditions.
“We started from a place where many participants did not know how to turn on the tablet,” explained Jessica Costa, Client Cloud Project Coordinator and Program Director for Partial Care Services at CarePlus. “By teaching participants to use the technology in an interactive group setting, we have created a strong foundation to build on.”
“It’s taken me a while to absorb because I’m not very technical,” stated one participant who is enrolled in CarePlus Partial Care Services and attends the Technology for Wellness group. “It’s a good challenge, and it’s becoming easier as I learn and practice.”
CarePlus has applied for more grant funding from the Cardinal Health Foundation to increase the number of participants from 30 to 75 in 2016. If received, the funding will be used to cover many one-time costs for the project, such as acquiring additional Smart Boards and tablets, expanding wireless connections, as well as promoting video conferencing with medical professionals and social support networks to decrease feelings and experiences of isolation.
“I want to learn how to Skype because I have friends that I speak with on the phone,” continued the participant. “I would like to see them while we are talking.”
A review of device search history revealed topics of interest including mental and physical health, nutrition and healthy eating, current events, and employment. The most frequent use appeared to be for entertainment, which follow-up interviews established were often searches for music. Participants noted that listening to music on the tablets provided motivation during physical activities, such as working out at the CarePlus on-site gym.
The CarePlus Foundation has also granted CarePlus the funding to invest in the myStrength application for the Client Cloud project. This digitally driven mobile application is designed to create an online learning environment that provides more behavioral health resources and the necessary tools for a lasting change. The program can be personalized for each participant so that every individual is able to focus on total well-being, addressing unique interests and challenges.
“In conjunction with the tools available through myStrength, we are confident that the Client Cloud project is equipped to engage participants and create sustainable outcomes,” Costa affirmed. “We believe that this innovation is a huge step in the right direction for behavioral healthcare.”
These tools give participants the opportunity to improve decision making and medication adherence, while increasing confidence, health literacy, and self-advocacy. Moving forward, CarePlus intends to implement more tools, enroll more participants, collect additional data, and continue to share the findings and outcomes of the project.