We interviewed two of the representatives of PsicoReg, a useful assistance app for psychologists.
Much of the success of a particular psychologist depends on their ability to organize and communicate with patients. That is, in their way of managing information both for oneself and for those who go through their consultation. This factor can become quite a challenge, since small failures in this can lead to serious errors, on the one hand, and requires constant attention and effort to have everything well prepared and up to date, on the other.
Fortunately, with the advancement of the era of digital tools, ways to simplify this facet of the work of psychologists are emerging. PsicoReg is one of the most prominent examples of this.
Interview with Laura Anillo and Ángel Prieto, from PsicoReg
Next we will see how the development of new technologies linked to the digital world allows us to respond to various of the daily needs of psychotherapists. PsicoReg is a case of tool that incorporates basic functions to improve the work capacity of mental health professionals through software in the form of an app.
Therefore, in the following lines we will speak with two of those responsible for its launch, Laura Anillo and Ángel Prieto.
In short … What is PsicoReg? What needs does it respond to?
Laura: PsicoReg is a platform for managing a psychological care consultation that is instrumentalized through a website for the professional and an App for the user, although the latter could also have web access. It has a large number of functionalities aimed at both the professional (management of appointments, reports, history, among others) and the patient (self-registrations, guidelines, appointment reminders, relaxation audios, psychoeducational content and a long ect.).
What are the main uses that can be given to PsicoReg?
Ángel: Our experience tells us that the use that is given to PsicoReg greatly depends on each professional. There are those who push the potential of PsicoReg to the limit by using it as an evaluation and intervention tool through its functionalities such as self-registration, task management, psychoeducational material, etc.
On the other hand, there are professionals who only use it for the organization of all patient information (appointments, appointment payments, history, reports, etc.) but who dispense with the bulk of the functionalities aimed at patients.
You talk about using self-registration by the patient. Isn’t it more comfortable to do it in the traditional way, with pencil and paper?
Laura: An easy answer would be to tell you that times change and that mobile phones are much more accessible. Which is something that we always carry with us. There are those who can be embarrassed to take out a booklet on the subway and start writing, but it is difficult for you to find someone who is uncomfortable doing it through the mobile.
However, the advantages of using an App do not stop there, following the Momentary Ecological Assessment model it is very important to collect the information at the right time.
Let’s take the example of a phobia, the thought distortions are not the same at the moment of exposure as after a few minutes. An app like PsicoReg allows you to collect information at those times: either by writing it or by voice. In this way, both the evaluation and the work done a posteriori with that information, such as, for example, a cognitive restructuring, will be more effective.
I’m going to give you a concrete example. It is not the first time that with the traditional method I have received a patient who has completed the registration in the waiting room. In this case, the work done in session with this material is very poor. With PsicoReg I know the time at which the records were created, that is, their response at the time it was found wrong.
And if instead of talking about the uses themselves, we focus on the advantages that this platform brings in the day-to-day professional life… What are the main ones?
Ángel: The main advantage of PsicoReg is saving time. Certain processes are fully automated (patient appointment reminder, correction of some scales) and others are done with very few clicks. Another great advantage would be data protection, the main recommendations call for separating identifying data from clinicians. PsicoReg facilitates this work enormously, since our servers do not save any identifying data of the patient.
Understanding how PsicoReg works, it gives me the feeling that it is oriented more to a specific type of psychologist …
Ángel: “In PsicoReg there are psychologists of all orientations. There is no doubt that a certain profile of psychologists will benefit more. PsicoReg goes like a glove for those psychologists who use self-records, guidelines / self-instructions, relaxation, psychoeducational content in their day-to-day life. However, other psychologists who do not use this functionality can use the platform more austerely.
Some people avoid using tools designed at this level of technology because they are intimidated by everything that has to do with computing. How easy is it to use this platform?
Laura: The App aimed at the patient is very simple. The same can be said about the platform aimed at professionals. However, it is true that this may have a small initial learning cost.
However, in less than half an hour we can learn everything you need to use it. We have developed a guide through videos and we give free training through videoconference to our clients. Despite this, most professionals understand it at a glance.
PsicoReg can be used by psychologists and also by their patients. How long does it take for the latter to learn to use it?
Ángel: The application is very visual and direct. Once the patient understands what a record is, they already know what the app is going to do: enter, fill in and send. With the rest of the functionalities it is very similar.
Contrary to common use, I have used it in a relaxation course. My purpose was that attendees could record each time they performed a technique, in addition to sharing content (stress guide, summary of techniques) and could listen to audios with the App.
The part that took me the longest was undoubtedly finding the App in the AppStore or Google Play. Although it is enough to search for “PsicoReg”, there were older people who had never installed an App. Once they had given the username and password to each one, the handling and use of the App was understood very quickly. The instruction on my part was practically nil.
On the other hand, psychologists have been using paper supports for decades to write down information about patients, or to write it down in documents on a PC. What are the advantages of having computerized records?
Laura: First, the centralization of the data. I can access all the data (except identification) both through the mobile phone and the fixed computer. Second, to save time, while I write a summary of the session for myself, I can share part of what is written with the patient or I can ask the patient to write me a summary. Third, security, having documents, whether electronic or paper, where I have the identifying data of the patient and the clinicians on the same sheet, is a great risk.
These documents can be stolen, either physically or electronically, being a great inconvenience. PsicoReg helps us comply with the regulations that regulate data protection.
Attending psychotherapy always requires a certain effort, continuous work to get to commit to one’s own improvement under the supervision of the professional. Therefore, one of the main concerns of psychotherapists is to achieve adherence to therapy, to avoid patients throwing in the towel. Does PsicoReg help to achieve this?
Angel: Of course. One of the strengths of PsicoReg is to increase therapeutic adherence. When we speak of adherence, we are not only referring to the patient coming to the session, but as you say to achieve this continued work. On the one hand, our App remembers appointments to the patient, which presumably reduces the rate of forgetfulness.
For example, it can be effective in disorders where memory fails a lot such as depression. On the other hand, having everything the patient needs accessible in an App makes it easier for them to carry out tasks, in this way the lack of time and organization is no longer a problem. In addition, it would increase the patient’s motivation to perform them.
One of the main disadvantages that many psychologists back down is usually the price of the licenses. Is this a drawback in the case of PsicoReg?
Laura: Like any service related to new technologies, it requires a high cost on our part in terms of maintenance, development, servers and customer service.
However, we believe that the cost of PsicoReg is very affordable and adaptable to each situation. We charge per active user, that is, for each user who is using the App. You can purchase the basic plan for 5 patients, but manage as many as you want.
It is true that only five patients will be able to use the App but the professional management part can be used with the number of patients that you want. In this way, you will be using PsicoReg for € 13 per month.
Before acquiring a license, can the psychologist test the product in any way?
Laura: Sure! PsicoReg can be used completely free of charge with the only limit of two patients. That is, only two patients will be able to use the App but with all the functionalities. I encourage every psychologist to try it.
Are you planning that new functions or options will be added over time?
Ángel: We have many ideas for the future. Being a very innovative idea at the moment we want to establish what we have, listen to our clients. Follow a process of continuous improvement with what we already have. Regarding the lines of the future, our objectives are to introduce Videoconferencing, mobile monitoring systems, introduction of artificial intelligence.
For example, introduce an algorithm that, taking into account the information that the patient enters in PsicoReg (only in PsicoReg), is capable of predicting certain risk behaviors.
It is very common for psychologists to not be able to read everything their patients write, but what if an artificial intelligence system could account for the risk of suicide? We believe this is of great interest. However, it requires a lot of research and financial resources that are not yet viable in a startup.