Healthcare Technology Featured Article

March 15, 2016

HealthRhythms Launches; Looks for New Understanding of Mental Illness

Mental illness isn't a pleasant topic. A casual insult, a scapegoat for super-villainy, an occasionally needless fear ... all of these are just part of the package when it comes to mental illness. Trying to change perceptions about, and opinions around, mental illness isn't easy, but it's a problem a group of entrepreneurs, computer scientists and mental health professionals have undertaken as part of the newly launched health startup, HealthRhythms.

Operating under the general belief that our everyday life is linked absolutely to our overall mental health, HealthRhythms seeks a better understanding of how our everyday routines—our natural rhythms—connect to our mental health, and thus, any issues that arise therein. A kind of combination of health and big data, HealthRhythms looks to give both individuals and healthcare providers that better understanding through the use of digital devices. Using passive sensing systems, HealthRhythms devices can help gather information unobtrusively, and therefore be more likely to put to use without fear of stigma or potential issues that arise from stigma.

Since HealthRhythms' CEO, Carlos Rodarte, was the former head of the Wearables Business Unit for PatientsLikeMe, he would have a clear understanding of the impact that such devices can have on a person's health, and not just mental. Rodarte offered comment, noting “By having a more complete picture of an individual through continuous measurement, we can significantly improve the lives of all patients. Identifying mental health signals in a way that enables early intervention opportunity not only helps patients, but also reduces the financial strain insurance companies and health systems face.”

With insurance companies, healthcare providers and more as HealthRhythms customers, it's clear there's a demand for this kind of operation. Mental health in the past has often gotten short shrift; a lack of care providers in the field has opened the field up to telemedicine, but it's also left a lot of places with no real mental healthcare provision. There's much about this field that's just plain not understood, and that which is understood often doesn't have the resources to be properly pursued.  Historically, insurance companies have provided much better treatment options for physical injury and health problems than mental ones, although laws passed in recent years have seen some changes come about. We often don't understand mental health, and that which we don't understand, we inherently don't like; that's part of the natural human condition. We can change that, however, and more information is a great place to start. HealthRhythms can help provide that information.

Learning more about the mind, and about its health issues, can help make a lot of lives better. A day in which mental illness troubles even one less person is a day worth pushing for. Companies like HealthRhythms may be ready to help ... if we're ready to make some changes ourselves. 

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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