The CIUSSS Centre-Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal (CCOMTL) has chosen EQ Care to collaborate on an innovative Digital Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (dCBT) pilot project for patients on the waiting list for psychotherapy treatment, immediately improving access to mental health services for residents of central Montreal.
Supported by the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS), the pilot is a strategic alliance between EQ Care, a Montreal-based virtual healthcare provider, in collaboration with MAISHA Labs, a technology firm specializing in the digitization of healthcare systems, and the CIUSSS Centre-Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, to test delivery of Digital Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (dCBT) as an approach to increasing access to mental health care and treatment. This will enable CCOMTL patients to complete sessions on their own time, anytime, anywhere while being supported by a licensed therapist.
"For several years, our population has expressed a need to obtain free access to psychotherapy. Recently, the MSSS created the Program for Mental Disorders: from Self-Care to Psychotherapy as part of a new mental health access and support program in the province," said Tung Tran, Director of Mental Health and Addiction for the CIUSSS. "It aims to improve access to mental health services, including psychotherapy. The demand for this support program was already glaring; but in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, health officials are noticing a significant increase in mental health needs. People are isolated, they have decreased income, and many have lost their businesses. This will bring tremendous consequences as far as mental health is concerned. Even if the MSSS finances psychotherapy, we still face challenges when it comes to recruiting psychotherapists. We are recruiting new professionals and finding innovative ways to diversify the means to improve access, and this dCBT program meets exactly this requirement."
Unlike an in-person visit or a virtual consultation with a mental health professional, dCBT provides a remote therapist-guided digital platform-enabled option, which has been shown to deliver results that are comparable or better.
EQ Care's current integrated and comprehensive online virtual health care service includes 24/7 access to physicians, mental health specialists and other medical and paramedical professionals, in all provinces and territories, through EQ Care's proprietary virtual care platform.
EQ Care will be rolling out trials of this service in the coming weeks, becoming the first ISO 9001:2015 health services company in Canada to launch this type of a pilot project.
"We have developed a unique online therapist-assisted mental health platform for patients to easily access treatment grounded in best practices. Each patient is paired with a dedicated, licensed therapist whose role is to guide and support the patient through a 12-week course of online therapy and weekly scheduled touch points", said Daniel Martz, CEO, EQ Care. "We are working with MAISHA Labs to help fine-tune this platform to treat patients with mild to moderate depression and certain anxiety disorders. Providing advanced technology-enabled solutions to help solve complex healthcare challenges is in our DNA, and we will leverage our expertise and best practices, coupled with our learnings from this trial, to further reinforce our leading clinical delivery models."
This digital healthcare trial centres on patient wellbeing, and is being put in place to assist presently overextended mental health professionals in the treatment of patients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is not meant as a replacement for in-person care by clinicians. Patients will still be able to receive face-to-face Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) after the pilot if needed, and remain on the waitlist, keeping their spot if they choose to participate in the dCBT program. This initiative will provide immediate resources for patients who currently do not have access to mental health support.
MAISHA Labs managed this project as part of a larger digital transformation project within the CIUSSS.
"Similar to other healthcare organizations, the CIUSSS has more demand for mental health services than there are mental health providers, and sometimes patients wait a long time to receive care," explained Amanda Babbitt, Digital Transformation Program Manager, MAISHA Labs, who works on-site at the Jewish General Hospital. "dCBT offers patients mental healthcare wherever they happen to be and at whatever time of day they choose. As integrators, MAISHA Labs provides the digital transformation program and project management, as well as AI tools. It was a pleasure to collaborate with EQ Care and the CIUSSS to launch this important program."
— EQ Care