Using AI to Better Understand COVID-19 Frontline Workers’ Mental Health

Featured Health Tech

Rightfully so, all eyes are on the increasing cases of COVID-19, especially as schools start opening campuses and buildings to students and faculty.  As we’ve already seen in a very short timeframe, these activities come with a substantial risk of outbreaks among those populations. 

What’s not as often talked about is the toll the pandemic is taking on healthcare workers, who are under constant pressure to test and treat COVID-19 patients, while also providing care to other patients safely.  On top of the increased burden that comes with almost 5.5 million confirmed cases in the U.S. – a figure that continues to climb steadily – they also have to worry about the safety of their families.  Many are staying in temporary accommodations to avoid exposing their families to added risk, which only adds to the anxiety and stress they are already feeling.

Physicians already suffer from a much higher burnout rate than other professions, and the added physical and psychological strain from the pandemic can only make the situation worse.

“We simply can’t ignore this emerging crisis that threatens the mental health and stability of our essential workers – they need support.”

Kavi Misri, founder and CEO, Rose

Rose is a remote patient monitoring solution originally developed to help healthcare providers monitor and manage patients’ mental health.  As with other RPM solutions, the idea is that a regular, consistent flow of health data can help identify changes in patient conditions that could signal complications or worsening conditions.  The Rose platform was built based on clinical trials and research by Johns Hopkins University.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital is now looking to leverage Rose internally to support its healthcare professional. The hospital is running a pilot program using Rose in its Emergency Department to support the mental health needs of its physicians and staff.  The pilot gives the hospital’s staff access to the Rose platform, through which they are able to provide data each day about their well-being, stress levels, and other factors that can be used to track their mental health. 

By providing answers to questionnaires or free-response journal entries, staff provide data that is used by Rose’s artificial intelligence and natural language processing technologies to identify warning signs of mental health symptoms, including anxiety, depression, and trauma.

One of the big issues is that mental health is a terribly overlooked healthcare need in the U.S., and most programs seek to treat burnout or depression once they have identified.  Much less effort is put into identifying risk of mental health conditions and treating them proactively. But, it’s a risk an already overburdened healthcare system can ill afford.

“Rose is tailor-made to address this challenge – proactively identifying individuals who are at greater risk of burnout and customizing interventions and content to their unique needs, while providing mental health professionals with the data and insights necessary to deliver personalized content more efficiently and effectively.”

Dr. John Shivdat, Rose advisor and chairman and medical director of HCA Coliseum Health System

Recognizing the need to support the frontline staff battling COVID-19 and other conditions, Drs. Hanni Stoklosa and Desiree Azizoddin at Brigham and Women’s drove the launch of the program, starting with a request for a solution to support the EM teams. Their search for the right solution for their program was facilitated by Catalyst Health 2.0, which specializes in developing and implementing programs for piloting and commercializing health care technology.  Its Rapid Response Open Calls initiative connects health care providers to the digital health community specifically in response to the pandemic.