Daily Briefing – August 24, 2019

“It’s a toss-up which is more nerve wracking: a first date or a first visit to a new therapist. Dates require small talk. But with a therapist, there can be pressure to really bare your soul. A growing Bay Area company called Two Chairs wants to take the stress out of finding and paying for therapy. Unlike other mental health start-ups, it doesn’t skim the earnings of therapists, or sacrifice in-person appointments for video or text chats. Instead, it runs brick-and-mortar clinics and directly employs therapists. It uses a human being (along with an algorithm) to match you with the right therapist. And then it handles the insurance paperwork so you can get a reimbursement check. “What we saw over and over in the research and literature is that the relationship between the therapist and the client is very consistently the best predictor of outcomes,” Alex Katz, Two Chairs’ founder and CEO, told Mashable. “We think owning that end-to-end experience is ultimately the only way to dramatically increase access to care.””

“Personalized medicine has become a byword of modern healthcare. By tailoring interventions to an individual’s specific needs, practitioners and patients are more likely to see improved outcomes. Robert Gibbons, PhD, Blum-Riese Professor of Biostatistics and Director of the Center for Health Statistics, has developed a highly personalized, effective and efficient electronic screening and measurement tool for quickly identifying and monitoring mental health conditions in the clinical setting and beyond. Known as Computerized Adaptive Testing for Mental Health Disorders, or CAT-MH™, the program can pinpoint a person’s condition, such as depression or anxiety, and measure its severity within a few minutes using just a few questions tailored for that person. “Traditional mental health measures use a fixed set of items or symptoms that are the same for every person you test,” Gibbons said. “Adaptive testing, by comparison, gauges the severity of a person’s condition based on their responses to the questions to that point in the test, and then selects the next optimal question from a large bank of potentially hundreds of items.” If a patient takes the test multiple times, different questions are drawn from the item bank, eliminating the potential for response bias.”

“SANFORD – Construction of the new behavioral health unit at Sanford Medical Center of Southern Maine Health Care is set to begin, with a view to a spring or summer opening next year. Ultimately, the unit, which will be operated by Maine Behavioral Healthcare, will accommodate up to 42 patients in a mix of private and semi-private rooms, but will open with capacity for 30 in the first year, hospital officials have said. Demolition and renovation inside the hospital building to create the unit will begin next week, SMHC spokeswoman Allison Kenty said on Thursday. Those using or driving by the facility in the next couple of days are likely to see large demolition containers and staging near the Emergency Department entrance and handicap parking spots near the ED will be relocated and signed. Construction trailers will be located at the rear of the building, she said. “Everything is on schedule and we’re excited about it,” said Kenty.”