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Mind Australia builds smart apps, speeds journey to better mental health

Almost half of all adult Australians will experience mental illness at some point with many requiring specialist support to get their lives back on track.  

Mind Australia is a leading community managed specialist mental health service provider, delivering support to around 9,000 plus people each year. It’s increasingly using digital technology to streamline the delivery of those services and provide deeper insights to support clients. 

As a notforprofit, the organisation needs to ensure that every investment delivers benefit for clients, which is why it has taken a determinedly client-centric approach to innovation and digital transformation. The partnership between both Veritec and Mind has always focused on ensuring that the client was front of mind.  

Mindinvestment in the Microsoft Power Platform has had a positive outcome for both its practitioners and clients. PowerApps and PowerAutomate were the perfect tools to deliver a modern, flexible and secure platform that is easy to use. 

When Peter Hood joined Mind as Director of Digital Transformation and Information Services in late 2019 he was impressed by the organisationalready well-established client-centric focus. His job was to turn theory into practice.  

By developing concept papers which articulate clearly what success would look like, Hood has been able to keep a tight grip of the digital transformation being undertaken across the organisation, maintain the client-centricity and build a rich data ecosystem to support clients and their treatmentWorking with the Veritec team that ecosystem was architected and delivered to a budget. Veritec and Mind will continue to use Microsoft technologies for the digitisation of forms, improved operation efficiencies and better customer insights. 

Hood first tested the concept paper approach when Mind commissioned Veritec to develop its Service Mix Calculator – an app which is designed to help optimise the services for a particular client, and deliver them cost effectively through various funding mechanisms including the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme). 

In the past, it was done on an Excel spreadsheet. Until it blew up,” says Hood. Of course it didn’t literally blow up – but spreadsheets struggled to manage the complexity involved. 

The Power Platform was able to process complex calculations, quickly and effectively. 

Veritec used Microsoft’s Power Platform to develop a PowerApp that provides much richer insight to Minds practitioners and clients about the varieties of service available, as well as the types and frequency of contact – allowing them to optimise a blend of services that best meets their needs. The increased visibility this offered Mind was highly valuable. 

The Service Mix Calculator helps navigate often complex NDIS rules – including travel rules – to work out what a client could do at a sustainable price point. 

Because all the options are laid out clearly it’s much easier for Mind staff to help clients to select which services seem best suited to their needs and then build a tailored service mix and develop a service contract. All this detail is then captured securely in Mind’s Dynamics 365 customer relationship management system. 

Veritec next developed an outcomes measurement app for clients who were in supported independent living settings 

The new app asks clients to comment about the outcomes they achieved through the various services they have experienced. Clients answer questions about different life areas such as relationships, drugs and alcohol. 

An embedded PowerBI dashboard visualises the responses for Mind staff who can discuss progress with the client – and what they can do to continue to improve their mental health. 

Those insights – gleaned from clients’ lived experience – can then be used to ensure clients receive a mix of the supports that have been proven to be most relevant. 

It also ensures clarity for the organisation itself. Hood explains; “We do a lot of internal reporting around services rendered, how they’re performed, KPIs, all that sort of stuff. But at the end of the day, the ultimate measure is how did we go, as an organisation, in providing services in the eyes of the client? The ultimate test is the recipient of that service and how they see that impacting and hopefully improving their mental health, and their journey through life. 

As far as clients are concerned this is “priceless information” says Hood, as it maps out their progress to wellness. The captured insights are also greatly valued by the array of organisations which fund mental health care as they reveal the efficacy of different approaches to mental health. 

Hood explains that by calibrating individuals’ responses to questions posed in the app, it’s been possible for Mind to build confidence in the composite metrics that emerge. “It applies rules consistently each and every time. So there is a greater confidence in the metrics coming out.” 

Better Life 

Veritec is also working with Mind to digitise its My Better Life plan® for clients. This will help identify patterns in customer needs and goal achievements across the different life areas documented in clients’ plans supporting their mental health recovery. “It’s trying to fine tune scarce resources into the areas that clients believe are important to them, individually, says Hood. 

According to Veritec GM, Adam Lang, using the Microsoft Power Platform, has allowed rapid development and modernisation of complex applications in order to solve real business challenges – and importantly also provides a compelling visual representation of data that resonates with Mind’s clients. 

The customer is going to be able to track their journey, have that visual representation of the journey, and see real benefit. Most importantly offering the best tailored care needed to each individual, he says. 

Power Platform also integrates with Microsoft Dynamics 365 which has been deployed as Mind’s customer relationship management systemallowing rapid prototyping of new applications and secure access to important data. 

While Mind has continued to serve the needs of clients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it did have to modify the way it worked, rapidly encouraging its 900+ personnel to use Teams to connect and communicate. According to Hood; “As our internal meeting medium, it is now an essential part of our life. People are remote working; I don’t think we’ll ever return to the meeting room scenario again. I think we’re Microsoft Teams forever. 

Hood adds that he is, “very confident in using Teams for client engagement,” where that meets the needs of clients. “We are very confident that when it comes to internal confidential connection, Teams is our platform.  

Mind is also working to capture data from all interactions with clients in real time into Dynamics 365 that will; “Become our source of truth for every touch point with client. That’s very powerful.