This month we profile PhD student Ben Gill. Ben is a born and bred Canberran who moved to Sydney in 2017 to commence his PhD at the Brain and Mind Centre, as part of the Project Synergy Research and Development Group. He graduated from the Australian National University in 2016, completing Bachelor degrees in Engineering (Honours) and Science. While only tangentially related to his PhD, Ben spends considerable time pondering the future of tech in mental health, from AI therapists, to what “personalised health care” means in the era of big data, to blockchain and EHRs and importantly to what are the ethical questions we should be asking but are not. Outside of this, Ben has a strong interest in social impact, entrepreneurism, design thinking, and youth empowerment, and utilises these skills while serving on a number of not-for-profit boards.
What is your research on?
My research is at the intersection of eHealth, mental health services and implementation science. My project focuses on the design of a readiness assessment tool for mental health services to adopt, implement and sustain eHealth and technology-enabled models of care.
What are the real world consequences of your research?
The vision, albeit ambitious, for my project is to reduce the research-to-practice gap that currently exists in mental health, and health research more broadly. Operating on the premise that technology is no longer the limiting factor in eHealth, but rather, working with people and organisations in its implementation, my project seeks to design a tool which collects information prior to implementation about the context of a particular mental health service. This information could then be used to tailor the implementation plan to the particular service and to identify areas of concerns which need to be addressed prior to introducing the technology. The hypothesised value is that this tailored implementation plan allows for a more efficient and effective eHealth implementation. Further, drawing on the Diffusion of Innovations Theory, it is hypothesised that this approach would reduce the likelihood of negative attitudes being developed towards the technology, which not only creates barriers to implementation of other eHealth technologies in the service, but creates barriers to the spread and scaling of the technology across a care system.
What does digital health mean to you?
For me, digital health is all about people. While the health care game has changed, the goal of providing society with the best possible care to live the lives they want to live has always remained the same. Digital health has to be more than just turning paper into code. It needs to be about understanding the challenges and paint points that patients, health professionals, supportive others etc. face when interacting with the health care system and co-designing solutions to provide them with the right care, at the right time, every time. While we aren’t there yet, long term, I like to think of digital health being the enabler to moving to a focus of managing wellness rather than illness.
A big thank you to Ben Gill for being our April feature.