Technology Record - Issue 24: Spring 2022

142 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om According to the 2021 investment recap of healthcare venture fund Rock Health, digital health start-ups offering mental healthcare services raised $5.1 billion. This is $3.3 billion more than any other clinical indication in 2021, and nearly double the funding total of $2.7 billion in 2020. For many of us, the need for these investments is underscored by our own experiences. I recently lost a dear friend and colleague to mental illness. I often wonder if her family and friends could have prevented her untimely death. The answer may lie in new ways of using technology to fill the gaps between office-based treatments that provide the practitioner with new ways to monitor the patient, communicate readily and easily, and identify early signs of a potential problem. A growing number of innovators are building these types of technology-based mental health solutions that have the potential to support the patient and their family and community, while striving to ensure that such tragedies become less frequent. Inmy role atMicrosoft, I’mable to see first-hand how technology is being used to improve mental health. Ksana, Ellipsis Health and Bipolar Buddy are all taking different approaches, but remain focused on reducing the impact of depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder on patients and their families. Digital mental health technology start-up Ksana Health was established in Oregon, USA, in 2019 by Dr. Nick Allen, an experienced clinician and leading researcher in digital phenotyping passive sensing via smartphones. He recognised that commercialising this technology for use in research and healthcare would create an opportunity to accelerate the transformation of mental healthcare delivery and have real impact by improving outcomes for millions of people who face mental health challenges. Allen, along with co-founder and experienced business leader Will Shortt, founded Ksana Health to fulfill this vision. Ksana Health’s solutions are designed to bring therapy out of the office and into everyday life with personalised insights and interventions that improve mental healthcare and enable better quality of life. Instead of relying on subjective self-reporting and periodic observations by clinicians and staff, Ksana’s Vira platform converts continuously and passively collected quantifiable behavioural patterns from patients’ mobile phones and wearables into actionable and objective insights. Practitioners can use these insights to build personalised therapy plans, making treatment more effective by allowing them to nudge clients at the optimal time for behavioural change. Empowered mental healthcare Many start-ups are using Microsoft technology to improve treatments and therapies for mental health disorders, enabling individuals to take their care into their own hands S A L LY F RANK : M I C ROSOF T V I EWPO I NT “In my role at Microsoft, I’m able to see first-hand how technology is being used to improve mental health”