Software Helps Lift Spirits

The use of business technology in the mental-health field is rare. But that's changing at Resources For Living, a national provider of behavioral health and wellness services, including depression treatment, obesity-disease management, and smoking-cessation programs.

Resources For Living has developed a statistical software tool based on Six Sigma principles that its phone and in-person counselors use to monitor treatment outcomes. The proprietary Windows-based Signal software, which stands for Statistical Indicators of Growth, Navigation, Alignment, and Learning, is a treatment-relationship-management system that helps counselors assess whether patients are receiving the right services or if a change in treatment is recommended.

By answering a series of questions at the beginning of a counseling session, patients give counselors a rating between 1 and 10 of how they're coping in various areas of their lives, such as work and personal relationships. The software uses algorithms to measure responses and translates that into graphical charts to help counselors track and document progress and maximize positive outcomes.

"In physical health, lab and other tests can assist in tracking how well a treatment is working for a patient," says Mary Beth Chalk, Resources For Living's chief operating officer. "But there's no hard science to statistically show whether a patient is feeling less depressed or anxious, and how treatments are working," she says. Resources For Living has used the software for about 18 months in 8,000 cases and 30,000 sessions. The company has no immediate plans to license the software to other providers.

Illustration by Brad Yeo/

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