Thinking Differently to Disrupt Mental Illness

Andrew WrightVP of Digital Medicines & Medical Device Division

Andrew Wright is responsible for leading the commercialization of wearable computing and digital products. Our goal is to enable improved patient medication ingestion and better-informed physician decision-making to tailor treatment to the patient’s needs. Mr. Wright has more than 25 years of U.S. and Global experience in commercial leadership roles in the pharmaceutical industry.

New digital technologies have enormous potential to solve age-old problems associated with mental illness, from fighting stigma to getting access to care to ensuring compliance. However, truly effective mental health technology may require something that rarely occurs: cross-disciplinary communication between the technology community and mental health experts, providers, and advocates.To help spark those conversations, I’m excited to announce that Otsuka is hosting Disrupting Mental Illness: The Next Generation of Innovation Pitch Event in collaboration with Elevate by Psych Congress on February 24th, 2018 in Austin, TX.The Pitch Competition builds on the growing recognition that technology can rapidly address many of the most pressing challenges in mental health. An estimated one in five Americans live with some form of mental health condition and nearly half of all Americans will develop at least one mental illness during their lifetime. Yet mental health care remains one of our greatest unmet needs.In any given year, less than half of those with a mental health condition will receive care. Furthermore, serious mental illness costs the American economy about $193 billion in lost earnings annually. . When you consider the connections to homelessness, addiction, crime, and suicide, mental illness represents one of the most devastating problems facing society. Technology is an ideal solution, given the field’s proven ability to quickly disrupt complex, entrenched challenges. Many have already recognized this opportunity – there are more than 46,000 apps for mental health on the market. Looking ahead, teams are also exploring how to use advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, wearables, sensors, and bots, in mental health.  As Otsuka’s Vice President of Digital Medicine, I’ve been thrilled to see this field develop. But I think we can achieve much more if we address two fundamental needs:
  • The need for understanding of complex mental health needs. As our North America President and Chief Executive Officer, Kabir Nath, explained in an earlier post mental illnesses are deeply complex, dynamic diseases. Each person who lives with a mental illness undergoes a journey that is unique, changeable, and often unpredictable. Any technological solution must therefore take into account the specific needs of its users, whether people with mental illness, caregivers, healthcare providers, or others.
  • The need for new, cross-disciplinary conversations. Innovators and technologists often don’t understand the problems they are solving because they haven’t communicated with experts or advocates. Few forums or channels bring together these viewpoints, so there is little communication to guide tech solutions for practical, daily needs.
We created the Live Pitch Event specifically to address these needs. We believe that by bringing together some of the best tech entrepreneurs and leading mental health experts, we can spark cross-disciplinary conversations, build shared understanding, identify novel opportunities, and pressure test new ideas.The Saturday evening program will begin with a panel conversation on opportunities for innovation in mental health. The Live Pitch Competition will follow, showcasing select entrepreneurs who will present brief and compelling pitches about their investment-ready company to an audience of healthcare experts, providers, and investors.As part of their pitch, presenters must be ready to respond to challenging questions asked by our panelists. At the conclusion of the event, the Live Pitch winner will be chosen by votes from the audience in attendance.The evening’s moderator will be Murray Zucker, M.D., Geriatric Psychiatrist and Healthcare Consultant. In addition to myself, the Live Pitch program panelists will be:
  • Siobhan Bulfin, Winner of 2017 Psych Congress Pitch Event; Chief Executive Officer, Melon Health
  • Rakesh Jain, M.D., Clinical Professor, Texas Tech University School of Medicine
  • Saundra Jain, PsyD, Adjunct Clinical Affiliate, University of Texas at Austin, School of Nursing
I’m proud to work for a company that has long been committed to the development of innovative solutions through engagement with a range of partners. We at Otsuka push ourselves and our partners to think differently, and to draw on diverse viewpoints, backgrounds, and experiences.In Austin, we hope to bring together different stakeholders, from mental health professionals to technology developers, to encourage collaboration that speeds the next generation of innovative solutions.Let’s challenge the norm, embrace new approaches, and uncover new connections. Let’s advance our understanding and our commitment by bringing new value to patients, caregivers, and the community.February 2018          00US18EUC0004
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Comments 1

  1. Gregory
    Sorry to have missed this event! Andrew, do you have another post with the results? I'm curious to hear about the learnings. It sounds really exciting and I hope to take part in future ones.