The 4th Belgian seminar, and already the 14th eMEN international seminar, was held in Leuven (BE) and focused on “Technology and Health: a good Return on Investment (ROI)?”. During the opening of the seminar, the Federal Minister of Public Health, Maggie De Block emphasized the importance of good integration of eHealth in the healthcare system. She elaborated on the various e-health initiatives that have been rolled out in recent years and was also very positive about how the eMEN project is contributing to the further upscaling of e-(mental) health.
Next, an interesting line-up of speakers shared their experience on the Return on Investment (ROI) of eMental Health products.
The first keynote, Dirk Antonissen (Pulso Europe) spoke openly about the difficulties to make a revenue with e-mental health products from the perspective of a social profit organisation, providing services and tools in e-mental health. One of the biggest problems is that end users seem to be reluctant to pay for applications: they have to be free of charge to be used. Charlotte Van den Broucke (Pulso Europe) subsequently presented one of the Pulso tools “Studying Without Worries” (“Studeren zonder blokkeren”), an online program which offers students a wide range of guidance during their studies.
The second keynote, Eric Van der Hulst (Imec) provided an overview of health tech innovations developed by Imec, from mental health monitoring using wearables to brain monitoring with an EEG headset. He also discussed current healthcare challenges and how technology or mobile health could be of added value for the “mobile generation”. During his talk, he also highlighted several examples of relevant projects and products.
After these two keynotes some case studies were presented. The first one was the Balance tool and how it was used in the Belgian supermarket chain, Delhaize, presented by Eddie De Block. Delhaize used the self-assessment tool (“Stress Barometer”) in order to detect psychological dysfunctions in almost 700 employees. Next, Koen Dewit (Zenjoy) showed us why design matters in branding and designing apps and tools. He made clear that, besides content, the way you present a product or how the user experience is evaluated makes a difference in the uptake of e-mental health products. Pamela Loges (Ideas from Europe) presented the “Generation Z” and their own mental health, and solutions to empower it. With the project Ideas from Europe they aim to improve the entrepreneurship in the field of e-mental health products and solutions. Finally, a Belgian publisher (Lannoo) demonstrated how they also invest in interactive products in mental healthcare. In this case, Memory Palace was presented by Lannoo author Kasper Bormans. Memory palace gives memories a place for people with dementia in a unique way to improve contact with people with dementia.
The interesting program was closed by a short panel discussion where the need for faster and more efficient evaluation methods was emphasised once more. All presenters further discussed ROI and came to the conclusion that such a commercial focus is often outside of the comfort zone of mental healthcare (professionals). Nonetheless it is an important aspect of any mental healthcare service and we should certainly be mindful of this in the future.