Flagging For Self-Harm: Improving Care Through Transparency

The pandemic has taken a huge toll on mental health for everyone, and risk for self-harm has increased. According to data from Mental Health America, nearly 37% of people reported thinking about engaging in self-harming or suicidal behaviors on more than half the days or nearly every day of the week in 2020. That’s six percentage points higher than 2019.

Proper prevention and treatment of self-injury and reduction of suicide depend on detecting risks early and consistently monitoring warning signs. That’s why we’ve launched a new flag for mental health conditions and self-harm in the Total Brain patient dashboard to alert clinicians when a patient's needs have escalated. 

Here’s how it works and how it can help: 

Alerting Clinicians

When patients take their Total Brain assessment, they will be asked whether they’ve had thoughts within the last two weeks of hurting themselves or being better off dead. They have four answer choices— not at all, several days, more than half of the days or nearly every day.  Any patients who affirm they’ve thought about self-injury even once will be flagged in the dashboard for their clinician to see. The clinician will notice a red dot to the left of the patients’ names, which will remain for 30 days or until the patients take their next assessment and the result can be updated. 

As soon as patients are flagged for self-harm risk, the provider will receive an email alert and will be prompted to log in to view the patient’s results. While the flag does not indicate severity of risk, it still serves as an important notification for clinicians to take action as soon as possible.

Transparency in the dashboard

Not only will clinicians logging into the dashboard be able to see the red flag for any individuals at risk for self-harm (PHQ-9 + Q9), they will also see an orange flag displayed for any patients who have tested positive in their Total Brain assessment for risk of any of the following mental health conditions: Major Depressive Disorder (PHQ-9 - Patient Health Questionnaire that measures level of self reported depression), General Anxiety Disorder (GAD-7), substance abuse (CAGE-AID), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PC-PTSD-5), ADHD, Social Phobia and Sleep Apnea. This additional flag brings providers increased awareness of any other mental health struggles affecting patients that could further the potential for self-harm.

We’re also giving clinicians the ability to filter for patients who are affected by each of the flagged conditions. They can select multiple conditions at once to reveal any patients struggling with more than one mental health issue. This gives clinicians direct, at-a-glance feedback on individual patient statuses based on their Total Brain assessments while improving visibility into patient population risk across the whole clinic. Previously, this information could only be accessed through clicking into each patient’s individual report.

With more transparency, providers can have a better understanding for those who are at higher risk for mental conditions and self-harm. They can better understand their patient population and more effectively target those who require immediate attention and intervention. 

Providers also can filter for patients with risk for any of the following or a combination of the following mental health conditions to focus on a specific patient population: 

  • PHQ-9 Self harm
  • PHQ-9
  • GAD-7
  • PC-PTSD-5
  • ADHD
  • Social Phobia
  • Sleep Apnea

Knowledge is power 

When it comes to delivering high-quality care, knowledge is power. Giving physicians more control of, and easier access to, patient information enables them to create more comprehensive, targeted and data-driven treatment plans. In the context of mental health, this not only improves health outcomes -- it saves lives.  

If you want to empower your clinical team with the data transparency they need to activate high-quality care, schedule a call to see how Total Brain fits into your clinic workflow. 

mental health in the covid-19 era