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The Benefits of Peer-to-Peer Patient Support for Mental Health

curatio mobile mental health
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curatio mobile mental health
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Emotional support is critical when managing health challenges, especially mental health. Curatio helps by assisting healthcare and life sciences organizations in providing support to patients through their smartphones.

Whether recovering from a stroke, facing mental health challenges, or undergoing surgery, the role of patient peer support can’t be overestimated. Feeling a social connection, hearing from others who can relate to your experience, and receiving encouragement to stick to your wellness or recovery regimen all improve one’s mental outlook and aid in recovery.

With the pandemic causing a temporary halt to in-person patient support programs, many are turning to online peer-to-peer communities.

Candace Nixon of Kelowna, BC, is one of them. At the beginning of 2021, Nixon was struggling with severe depression and anxiety, barely able to leave her home. “I had been going through a lot of chronic stress and I was really struck down,” she says. COVID-19 exacerbated her fear, anxiety, not to mention her sense of isolation. “The isolation just heightened my general feeling of not feeling safe to go out of the house,” she says. 

Then she happened across a Facebook post about an online wellness app program called Stronger Together. The program offers private social support communities for people managing a range of different conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Users have access to peer support, coaching from nurses and experts, evidence-based health literacy programs, and daily check-ins for both patients and families.

Through the Stronger Together app, Nixon joined a community for people who have difficulty with physical activity and, today, goes for walks outside three times a day for about 15 minutes. “I really don’t think I would have been able to do that without going through the program. Just having the support has made me feel better in general and has made so much of a difference,” says Nixon.

Curatio helps organizations develop patient supports through mobile app technology

Nixon and others in the Stronger Together support groups connect through an app developed by Curatio, a Canadian digital health company that works with pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, private clinics, and others in the healthcare industry to develop their own peer-to-peer patient communities in a privacy and regulatory compliant online environment.

Nancy Serwo, who underwent hip replacement surgery last March, joined a 12-week Stronger Together program geared to patients undergoing joint replacements. “There was lots of really good information, not just about the physical side of things, but on how to cope with the stress, emotional preparation for what lies ahead, and how COVID is affecting you,” says Serwo, who is also from Kelowna.

After completing the 12-week program around the end of April, Serwo signed up for the summer program. “There’s so much good information that I definitely want to stay with it,” she says. She connects to her group quickly and easily through her smartphone. “The app is excellent, and the Stronger Together program was so helpful to me in terms of learning what I didn’t know,” says Serwo.  A former nurse, Serwo has been particularly impressed with the calibre and credibility of the medical information being shared. “I saw that it was all coming from reputable, evidence-based sites, so I absolutely trust it,” she says. 

Numerous functionalities from health trackers to private peer-to-peer support enhance adherence and engagement

Aside from giving patients access to peer-to-peer support groups and a wide range of curated evidence-based health information, Curatio’s technology offers health trackers, medication reminders, side effect trackers and tailored, personalized content all designed to increase adherence and engagement. Curatio’s platform enables real-time, real-world evidence that allows life sciences organizations to act at the patient level while gathering insights in the aggregate.

Best of all, patients can engage with the app in the way they see fit. “You can get really involved if you wish by posting every day and even speak to someone privately through the in-app support, or just look at the information, so there are lots of options for support,” says Serwo.

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