But professional-grade tools are scarce. UBC faculty members, sensing a need, went to work.
The result is “MoodFx,” a new mobile-friendly web tool based on questionnaires that physicians use to track their patients with depression.
“Why not put the tools in the hands of the patients themselves, so they can track how things are going?” says Raymond Lam, Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, who worked with UBC’s eHealth Strategy Office to develop the mobile-friendly website.
The website uses validated questionnaires to assess a person’s depression, anxiety, cognition and work performance.
MoodFx was designed to help people not only track how they feel but also objectively evaluate their ability to function and work – a feature that attracted a $150,000 contribution from Lundbeck Canada.
“Depression affects the working-age population and places a huge burden on productivity, both business and societal,” says Patrick Cashman, President and General Manager of Lundbeck Canada, a Montreal-based pharmaceutical company that specializes in brain diseases. “Our purpose is to challenge the status quo, because Canadians living with brain disease deserve better. An app helps take that to the patient level and gives meaningful information that physicians can use during treatment. That’s why we wanted this project to go forward.”
Launched to a standing-room only crowd at the annual meeting of the Canadian Psychiatric Association in September 2014, MoodFx (www.moodfx.ca) uses validated questionnaires to assess a person’s depression, anxiety, cognition and work performance, to determine whether a user should seek help.
For people in treatment, MoodFx provides reminders to check symptoms regularly and before appointments with their family doctor, psychiatrist or counsellor. MoodFx also charts the results over time so that patients can print or show their charts to their health care provider from a smartphone or tablet. Information is stored anonymously and securely.
The MoodFx web app can also send weekly tips for managing depression, anxiety and problems with cognition and work stress. “This tool is not only patient-friendly but also health professional-friendly,” says Kendall Ho, Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and Director of the eHealth Strategy Office. “It promotes patients and health professionals as strong partners in improving health, depression and anxiety in the workplace.”
The site has registered more than 500 users from across the country. In a recent survey, close to 70 per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that MoodFx has been useful for them. One user commented, “MoodFx has really helped me to see progress, and when there is a rough time, to be able to see visually that I can and will come back around.”
“Lundbeck Canada recognized the immense impact and burden of depression on work functioning, and the challenge for busy clinicians to monitor symptoms and outcomes during treatment,” Dr. Lam says. “This project uses mobile technology to improve measurement-based care.”