|9th November 2017
"One of the things I enjoy most is the empowering spirit around the office – people are given enough freedom to follow their individual creative process, which is pretty rare."
I applied for BLH’s internship in mental health apps (MHapps) as part of my MSc course in Human-Computer Interaction Design. Having an academic background in psychology made this project a perfect opportunity for me to combine my interest in wellbeing with my passion for digital healthcare.
BLH invited me to participate in their company activities from day one. Being thrown into the deep end is always pleasantly challenging. To keep up with all the domain-specific acronyms flying around the meeting rooms, I found myself trying to discretely Google them on my phone underneath the table. KOL? SCR?? MOA???
My first week included lots of training. For example, I was invited to attend a half-day training course on the ABPI Code of Practice, which sets the standard for the promotion of medicines.
The course provided me with valuable ethical and professional considerations to be mindful of when operating within the pharmaceutical context and helped me learn more about the work being carried out at BLH.
I’m enjoying the learning opportunities provided by the dynamic working environment and my colleagues are always willing to share from their expertise. In addition to expanding my knowledge of service design and the user-centred design process, I’m able to learn new things such as working with healthcare stakeholders, designing patient and physician-facing systems, and conducting research in healthcare.
I occasionally assist the CX team in their ongoing projects, working as an Associate CX Consultant for some exciting pharma brands.
One of the things I enjoy most is the empowering spirit around the office – people are given enough freedom to follow their individual creative process, which is pretty rare.
BLH’s special focus on the health and pharmaceutical industry is an added bonus. It means I can engage in the development of products and services that have a meaningful impact on peoples’ lives.
For my project, which counts towards my dissertation, I am exploring the world of MHapps, focusing specifically on apps that deliver cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT has been established as one of the most effective therapeutic approaches for a wide range of mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression.
I chose to focus on CBT-based apps as studies have found that computerized CBT (CCBT) interventions are successful and can be delivered via mobile device, while retaining therapeutic validity.
Using CBT-based apps can address some of the challenges of CBT, including homework adherence and data collection, and they present innovative opportunities for mental health providers when integrated into therapy.
Furthermore, as available healthcare resources fail to meet the growing demand for mental healthcare, MHapps may become a first-line treatment option for many patients. A major concern, however, is the quality of commercially available MHapps, as the majority of them have not been evaluated in terms of their effectiveness, validity, or safety.
My research aims to establish an alternative measure for assessing the quality of CBT-based apps, based on the criteria used by mental health providers. So far I’ve been focusing on my desk research, becoming familiar with the scientific literature around mobile health (mHealth) and MHapps, reviewing existing tools for evaluation and validation of mHealth and persuasive health technologies, and conducting a content analysis of commercially available CBT-based apps.
I’m really excited about the next phase of my research, which will involve in-depth qualitative interviews with mental health providers. Using an inductive approach to thematic analysis, I hope to find common themes in the data that could then become quality criteria for CBT-based apps in particular, and design guidelines for mobile mental health interventions in general.
Are you interested in working at Blue Latitude Health? Find out about our latest opportunities and what we look for in our new hires today.
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