Poster Presentations

P-17: Evaluating the Use of Tablets for Conducting Mental Health Assessments in Primary Care

Ms. Jennifer La

Mohamed Alarakhia, BSc, MD, CCFP,
Jennifer La*, MASc,
Lirije Hyseni, MSc,
Meghan Brenner-Burgoyne, RN, MPH,
Danika Walden, PMP, MSc

The eHealth Centre of Excellence
Benefits Realization

Topic: Health Technology Assessment, Health Services, eHealth

Each year, 1 in 5 people in Ontario live with a mental health condition (Brian et al., 2015). To support efficient and standardized mental health assessments using validated tools, the eHealth Centre of Excellence (eCE) in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association of Waterloo-Wellington supported primary care providers (PCPs) in Waterloo-Wellington with the adoption of tablets to facilitate patient assessment for mental health via a loaded assessment eForm on the tablet that patients could complete while waiting to see their PCP. The tablet results are integrated with the PCP electronic medical record (EMR), supporting the use of patient mental health scores at the point of care and allowing a view of mental health trend over time. Clinics were encouraged to use tablets for other purposes to enhance their efficiency.

The objective of this presentation is threefold:

  1. To illustrate the impact of the adoption of tablets in the number of mental health assessments conducted, over time, in the primary care clinics;
  2. To explore the use of tablets for conducting other assessments; and  
  3. To highlight the patient experience with using tablets to complete assessments.

Administrative data, PCP feedback and feedback through the patient experience survey was analyzed to explore the impact of tablet adoption from different perspectives.  

A total of 13 clinics adopted tablets during a nine-month period, equating to 86 PCPs in Waterloo-Wellington.  The data analyzed illustrated an increase in the number of validated, standardized mental health assessments completed post compared to pre-tablet adoption. Over one third (35.8%) of eForms completed on the tablets were mental health assessments (totaling 10,244). Tablets were also used to conduct Nipissing District Developmental Screens, Nutri Step, and other assessments (totaling 18,353 eForms). Patients indicated that tablets were easy to use (92%) and enjoyed having something to do while waiting to see their PCP (70%). Over a third (36%) of patients indicated that using the tablet helped them provide more honest answers supporting a more comprehensive assessment at the point-of-care.  Clinician feedback illustrated that tablet adoption has helped standardized the way mental assessments are done, increased the capacity to conduct mental health assessments efficiently, while allowing for the use of assessment scores at the point of care, supporting an effective conversation during the visit, and reducing administrative time spent scanning and uploading paper assessments into the EMR.

The use of tablets in primary care has shown promising results in increasing the number of standardized mental health assessments, enhancing the patient experience while they wait in the waiting room, and empowering patients to communicate on sensitive health topic such as mental health, with the potential to be used for other assessments to enhance clinic efficiencies.