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The healthcare start-up tackling COVID-19 head on

social media

2 June 2020

Around the world brilliant, community-minded people have rallied to fight COVID-19 through adapting their skills and abilities. The team at healthcare start-up Clearhead are such people. They have quickly extended the capabilities of their online platform for short-term help with COVID-19, providing additional support with triaging COVID-19 testing, and helping with the longer-term toll that this global pandemic is wreaking on peoples’ mental health.

Clearhead is a free, online, one-stop-shop platform, designed by doctors to empower New Zealanders to find the help they need. Clearhead’s CEO is University of Auckland alumna Dr Angela Lim, who first ignited her entrepreneurial aptitude back at university through her involvement with the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. After many years as a practicing doctor, she left her role at Starship to found Clearhead, driven by a desire to make a significant difference to New Zealand’s ongoing mental health pandemic. Clearhead’s core business is making it easier for everyday New Zealanders to better understand their mental health and find mental health professionals who deliver therapy. Their services include an artificial intelligence chatbot that is able to take you through a mental health assessment, search functionality to help people find therapists in their area, and tools for the therapists such as a free, booking management system and HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform, the highest level of data security for video calls.

When COVID-19 first hit, it became apparent that New Zealand’s overstretched healthcare systems were not going to be able to cope with a wave of people panicking and looking for guidance around coronavirus diagnosis. Healthline was inundated and unable to cope with demand. Healthline had call volumes 10 times larger than normal resulting in dropped calls and wait times of more than an hour. The team at Clearhead leveraged their underlying platform infrastructure and worked with doctors to develop a COVID-19 AI chatbot within 3 days, giving people the ability to check their symptoms based on the Ministry of Health’s case definition. The self-assessment takes 5 minutes to complete and if symptoms match the profile of COVID-19, recommendations for next steps are provided. The service was so popular that through the month of March COVID-19 diagnostics represented 70% of Clearhead’s web traffic.

COVID-19 assessment-related traffic subsided as New Zealand moved into Level 2, though is still being used. It will remain on the website for use if another wave comes. In the meantime, the Clearhead team are returning to their core business of mental health community support.

The World Economic Forum has reported that they expect Covid-19 will result in a secondary epidemic of burnouts and stress-related absenteeism in the latter half of 2020. Angela Lim concurs and believes that there are highly varying degrees of preparedness demonstrated in New Zealand’s individuals and organisations.

“Many of the healthcare professionals I have spoken with are worried. Pre-COVID the mental health enquiry report has already clearly highlighted a mental health system that is overwhelmed and not able to meet the true demand in the community for mental health support. The pandemic has only exacerbated that demand and so we need to be thinking about innovative solutions that are able to support our existing workforce to meet the need at scale, while growing the workforce where we can.”

“Organisations need to use data to get a better pulse of the mental health of their employees and to do so in a manner that still respects the individual’s privacy. Clearhead can support these organisations with that as we put our user’s data privacy first but have systems in place that allow us to extract information in an anonymised manner that can inform and support decision making for what needs to be done to better meet the needs of their employees.”

“At an individual level, working from home has meant a blurring of those work-life boundaries and that we need to be really conscious of redefining those limits. Managing life post-COVID until a vaccination is widely available, means that this is a marathon and not a sprint. People need to readjust to this new way of life in a manner that does not lead to burnout in the long term.”

Angela says her main message to people is to take care of yourself. “I would encourage people to reach out for support the moment they are considering it. Don’t delay, there is lots of free help available. Managing your mental health is always more effective when you are being proactive and by developing a level of self-awareness. Clearhead’s artificial intelligence chatbot can help you with starting on this journey.”

For more information as a consumer: https://www.clearhead.org.nz/
For more information as a therapist: http://provider.clearhead.org.nz/

James Hutchinson
James Hutchinson
James Hutchinson
James Hutchinson
James Hutchinson
James Hutchinson

social media

2 June 2020

Around the world brilliant, community-minded people have rallied to fight COVID-19 through adapting their skills and abilities. The team at healthcare start-up Clearhead are such people. They have quickly extended the capabilities of their online platform for short-term help with COVID-19, providing additional support with triaging COVID-19 testing, and helping with the longer-term toll that this global pandemic is wreaking on peoples’ mental health.

Clearhead is a free, online, one-stop-shop platform, designed by doctors to empower New Zealanders to find the help they need. Clearhead’s CEO is University of Auckland alumna Dr Angela Lim, who first ignited her entrepreneurial aptitude back at university through her involvement with the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. After many years as a practicing doctor, she left her role at Starship to found Clearhead, driven by a desire to make a significant difference to New Zealand’s ongoing mental health pandemic. Clearhead’s core business is making it easier for everyday New Zealanders to better understand their mental health and find mental health professionals who deliver therapy. Their services include an artificial intelligence chatbot that is able to take you through a mental health assessment, search functionality to help people find therapists in their area, and tools for the therapists such as a free, booking management system and HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform, the highest level of data security for video calls.

When COVID-19 first hit, it became apparent that New Zealand’s overstretched healthcare systems were not going to be able to cope with a wave of people panicking and looking for guidance around coronavirus diagnosis. Healthline was inundated and unable to cope with demand. Healthline had call volumes 10 times larger than normal resulting in dropped calls and wait times of more than an hour. The team at Clearhead leveraged their underlying platform infrastructure and worked with doctors to develop a COVID-19 AI chatbot within 3 days, giving people the ability to check their symptoms based on the Ministry of Health’s case definition. The self-assessment takes 5 minutes to complete and if symptoms match the profile of COVID-19, recommendations for next steps are provided. The service was so popular that through the month of March COVID-19 diagnostics represented 70% of Clearhead’s web traffic.

COVID-19 assessment-related traffic subsided as New Zealand moved into Level 2, though is still being used. It will remain on the website for use if another wave comes. In the meantime, the Clearhead team are returning to their core business of mental health community support.

The World Economic Forum has reported that they expect Covid-19 will result in a secondary epidemic of burnouts and stress-related absenteeism in the latter half of 2020. Angela Lim concurs and believes that there are highly varying degrees of preparedness demonstrated in New Zealand’s individuals and organisations.

“Many of the healthcare professionals I have spoken with are worried. Pre-COVID the mental health enquiry report has already clearly highlighted a mental health system that is overwhelmed and not able to meet the true demand in the community for mental health support. The pandemic has only exacerbated that demand and so we need to be thinking about innovative solutions that are able to support our existing workforce to meet the need at scale, while growing the workforce where we can.”

“Organisations need to use data to get a better pulse of the mental health of their employees and to do so in a manner that still respects the individual’s privacy. Clearhead can support these organisations with that as we put our user’s data privacy first but have systems in place that allow us to extract information in an anonymised manner that can inform and support decision making for what needs to be done to better meet the needs of their employees.”

“At an individual level, working from home has meant a blurring of those work-life boundaries and that we need to be really conscious of redefining those limits. Managing life post-COVID until a vaccination is widely available, means that this is a marathon and not a sprint. People need to readjust to this new way of life in a manner that does not lead to burnout in the long term.”

Angela says her main message to people is to take care of yourself. “I would encourage people to reach out for support the moment they are considering it. Don’t delay, there is lots of free help available. Managing your mental health is always more effective when you are being proactive and by developing a level of self-awareness. Clearhead’s artificial intelligence chatbot can help you with starting on this journey.”

For more information as a consumer: https://www.clearhead.org.nz/
For more information as a therapist: http://provider.clearhead.org.nz/


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