Igor Holas is a research psychologist, chief scientist, and one of the founding partners of a clinical outcome measurements software program designed for behavioral health. Mentegram empowers therapists with the understanding for making better therapy decisions. The platform helps build and quantify mental health insights, that are often lost, between therapy sessions. As a result, both parties are better prepared for therapy. Because less in-session time is required for understanding issues, more can be devoted to addressing them.
Innovators like Edison, da Vinci, Bell and many others are responsible for the world that we know. A world that is better. Mentegram helps bring innovation into studying and understanding human behavior, experiences, and well being.
as we ask Igor about Mentegram, his background as a research psychologist, and why clinical outcome measures are increasingly more important to behavioral health providers.
Igor, what is your background? I am trained as a research psychologist, and have spent the last 15 years helping organizations make better use of data. Mentegram really stems from the confluence of these two passions.
Where did you get the idea? In the simplest terms, Mentegram was built out of frustration. In the age of Facebook and Google, research in psychology and behavioral healthcare base their decisions on extremely thin data. We built mentegram to harness the power of modern technology to help behavioral health. We can now understand how clients are doing on a daily basis, anticipate and intervene in the moment of crisis (or even before). We can also use this information to make our care more efficient.
What is Mentegram? Mentegram is a secure platform for behavioral tracking between therapy sessions. Therapists can either create a personalized questionnaire for each client’s specific needs, or select one from our resource library. The client then responds to their personal questionnaire through their smartphone, and their responses return securely to their therapist. There, they are neatly organized on their therapist’s Mentegram dashboard.
You’ve recently written about why you’ve chosen to let users create their own questionnaires. Could you explain? Sure! Mentegram took a risk in putting great power in the hands of our providers. Of course, one could simply choose to use a standardized depression inventory, but we offer the ability to write fully personalized questionnaires for each client. This may seem like an odd choice. After all, teams of researchers often spend years perfecting their standardized tools, but we were very deliberate with this choice. Standardized tools are great for understanding the trends in a group; however, when you try to understand a single individual, with their unique strengths and challenges, nothing can beat the power of a questionnaire, written specifically just for them. It’s a feature of Mentegram that can at first appear daunting to some users, but it is also what empowers them to understand, and thus deliver better, more focused care for each client.
How is Mentegram better than what we have now? Traditional behavioral tracking makes use of rudimentary paper charts that clients must take home, keep track of, and return during their next session. These charts are easily lost or forgotten, which explains their abysmal response rates. Mentegram makes use of the mobile devices already in clients’ pockets, allowing them to take roughly a minute to respond, then go about their day. The fact that therapists can tailor questionnaires to each client’s specific needs, and view responses in real-time, fosters a higher level of engagement. As a result, clients are more mindful of what’s going on, and therapists are getting much more of the picture.
What does this do for the therapist? It takes proven approaches, such as CBT and DBT, and sets them up with a higher chance of success. By making journaling, mindfulness exercises, or any other of the wide variety of techniques easier for the client to stay an active participant, the potential for success skyrockets. Also, as I just mentioned, this information is available as soon as the client completes each questionnaire. That means that there is no longer this bloated downtime, requiring a significant percentage of each session devoted to playing catch up. The therapist knows if their client has been tracking, and if so, they are going into each session prepared and ready to do the work.
Could this information also be useful for supervising therapists or social workers? Absolutely, a supervising therapist would not only be able to see where the care provided by their trainees is succeeding or struggling, but they would also be able to identify the personal strengths of each trainee. For example, a trainee may show promise working with bi-polar clients, but they might still spinning their wheels, trying to make headway with alcoholic clients. The supervising therapist could then intervene with the appropriate coaching to help their trainee grow, and ultimately provide better care for more clients.
What about program directors? Program directors are always bending over backwards to prove that their organization is delivering the highest quality care. With Mentegram, their therapists have deeper insight, and are therefore more likely to implement effective strategies for achieving their goals. However, likelihood makes for a flimsy argument when directors meet with donors or state agencies, so we give them hard data. This way, they go into meetings, that affect the state of their organization, armed with primary, client-produced data. Coincidentally, when it comes to PHI, the only type of data that the FDA now accepts is that which is directly from the client.
About a month ago, Mentegram ended its beta program. How are things going so far? It is going very well. There has been a tremendous response from the mental health and behavioral health sectors. We are also seeing a steady flow of new users on the private practice side, while making some excellent connections among behavioral health clinics and centers.
Have you learned anything interesting that you did not expect? I think the most surprising was the sheer level of creativity in response to Mentegram. In its basic form, Mentegram simply takes classic tools, such as the Thought record, and places them on clients’ smartphones. However, bridging this single technological gap opens a world of opportunity for approaching behavioral care in new and powerful ways. We built Mentegram to be very versatile, and the ideas we hear from our users are motivating us to deliver more every day.
What’s next? We have many ideas, but everything depends on what would deliver the most value to the providers who are using Mentegram. Our goal is to continue finding ways of taking the guess work out of mental health. If we receive enough requests for a feature that would help therapists get a new perspective, and ultimately deliver better care, then there’s a good chance that feature will make its way into our production pipeline. After all, our users are the ones on the frontlines, so we are actively listening and constantly adapting.
How can our providers find out more about Mentegram?
See an introduction of Mentegram on YouTube.
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