Special thanks to Elijah Szasz at SPARK6 for hosting Opeeka on a recent episode of The Good User Experience podcast. Eli speaks to Kate Duggento Cordell, PhD, MPH and Ken Knecht about how they founded Opeeka and what they are doing to change the world of mental health care.
If you are one of the country’s most fortunate citizens to have healthcare coverage, then you are also not likely a stranger to mountains of paperwork. Even within the same insurance provider, you will often fill out additional heaps of redundant paperwork when seeing a specialist. If you have children, scale the paper trail proportionality with the number of dependents. But what I’ve always found most interesting was that after scribbling my health history onto the stack of paper bound by a clipboard, along with that of my parents and children, I could always be sure that it wouldn’t be the last time. For some inexplicable reason, Facebook will routinely show me the lunch I had eight years ago on this day, but no medical record system can produce a report of the broken bones I had two years back.
In all fairness, the entirety of healthcare is not a single publicly traded entity like a big social media venture. Still, the initial promise of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) was to begin uncovering one of the essential parts and biggest blindspots of healthcare: the story of our health. Our health is much more than a recent illness or sprained ankle. It is about the collection of our experiences and often how they play out on a day-to-day basis. And, even our own experience is a lot to remember, let alone how old your grandmother was when diagnosed with diabetes. It is easy to become overwhelmed with all of the information required to tell the story of one’s health accurately and even more exhausting to tell it over and over and over.
We have come a long way in the last thirty years in terms of general medicine. Before, it was common to go to an endocrinologist for one set of blood tests, a gut-specialist for another, and so on. With the emergence of functional medicine, integrative medicine, and holistic medicine, there is more communication between these previously disparate practices.
However, in the realm of mental healthcare, we have yet to take such a comprehensive approach. Reciting your physiological health story is overwhelming, but doing the same for your mental health means revisiting trauma repeatedly every time you see a different doctor. Currently, people can go to a psychologist for talk therapy, or EMDR and similar treatments, a psychiatrist to get medication, and some people independently pursue alternative routes to self-care through exercise, nutrition, and more. However, rarely do these pieces communicate and work together to treat the patient as a whole human, considering all facets of their mental well-being. Two individuals could share the same diagnosis but require completely different treatments. But where to begin?
Now, imagine having a piece of technology that could track your health history for you. This technology could provide your health story to your provider, allowing you to bypass the continual re-telling of your trauma. It could allow physicians to communicate with each other and compare patient data with similar individuals to determine the most appropriate interventions that are most likely to work.
This is Opeeka’s mission. To bring mental healthcare full circle, treat patients as complete humans, identify treatments that work for similar types of people, and assist the story-telling process between patients and providers. Spearheading this initiative is Kate Cordell. She is a data-driven, thought-leader in behavioral health technology. Opeeka uses technology to bring patients and providers closer together and helps to take the guesswork out of what type of treatments work for whom.
In this podcast, we discuss the inspiration behind Opeeka, why foster youth are the primary focus for this service, and plans to make it more accessible for individual users to track their health history and not just providers.