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Wurzweiler Students and Eleos Health in Partnership

Social work students will learn to leverage the latest technology to benefit clients in need of guidance, thanks to an innovative partnership—the first of its kind—between Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work in New York City and Eleos Health, a Boston-based digital behavioral health startup.

Wurzweiler will be the first higher education institution to adopt Eleos Health as a teaching tool in the classroom and in the field and then make the technology available to alumni therapists throughout the YU ecosystem. Now, in the shelter-in-place environment, behavioral therapists and patients unable to meet face to face can do so virtually.

“As the pandemic forced us to learn to be effective teachers in a remote setting, we realized that we also need to re-focus our curriculum to train our students to deliver quality care remotely, especially as more and more patients engage in teletherapy,” said Dr. Hanni B. Flaherty, assistant professor at Wurzweiler, who led the online training.

“We are training 21st-century clinicians to provide excellent care and support in any setting, whether in face-to-face therapy sessions or through teletherapy,” said Dr. Danielle Wozniak, Dorothy and David I. Schachne Dean of Wurzweiler. “The feedback students receive from this platform greatly enhances that training.”

Eleos Health is the first Care Intelligence System for behavioral/mental health, driven by artificial intelligence and integrated with Zoom and other telehealth solutions to optimize behavioral care. Its innovative technology captures, analyzes and measures therapeutic events during a therapy session to generate actionable insights. It computes, among other metrics, which mental health issues arose most prominently, which evidence-based techniques were used, and which words occurred most frequently.

Behavioral therapists can also save on the time required to fill out reports and see more patients, as the Eleos system automatically generates compliance-ready progress notes for clinicians.

In a pilot program representing this unique collaboration, YU students participated in 30 mock therapy sessions and took turns roleplaying therapist and client as a Wurzweiler professor acted as supervisor and provided real-time feedback and analytics through the Eleos’ HIPAA- and FERPA- compliant platform. In the next phase, students in all practice classes had the opportunity to practice clinical interviewing while receiving sophisticated text-analysis feedback.

Eleos Health empowers therapists with real-time clinical insights based on natural language processing software (Yeshiva has an indirect investment interest in Eleos Health.) The Eleos software was integrated within YU’s learning management system, with the launch requiring no complex integrations and minimal IT time. The project modeled what it was like for the students to be on a mental health platform and assessed their use of engagement and empathy skills taught in the classroom. Wurzweiler and Eleos Health plan to deploy the tool for clinical supervision in clinical agencies where these students will be practicing social workers.

“The pandemic has thrust mental health—and teletherapy—to the top of the global agenda,” said Alon Joffe, co-founder and CEO at Eleos Health. “With this software platform, clinicians in training can apply therapy as well as teletherapy skills. Eleos focuses on serving health systems and providers, but we’re grateful for the opportunity to give educators the tools needed to effectively train the next generation of therapists and mental health clinicians.”

COVID-19 has brought to light a staggering mental health crisis in the United States and in, turn, has heightened the demand for teletherapy. Nearly 115 million Americans live in mental health shortage areas, with only 26.1% of the need being met, a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found. The National Council for Behavioral Health reported that 77% of counties in the United States are severely short of mental health providers. The National Center for Health Workforce Analysis projected by 2025 a shortage of 45,000 to 250,000 mental health professionals. Globally, there is fewer than one mental health professional for every 10,000 sufferers, most of whom get no treatment at all.