A South African health tech start-up is working to improve the quality of care and support kids with mental health challenges receive by providing an app-based communication and tracking tool for parents.
The app, called Tracto, allows parents and teachers to collaboratively track behaviours and treatment progress of children with mental health or neurodiverse conditions, including ADHD, autism, and anxiety. After allowing for more accurate, in-time documenting of observations, Tracto then facilitates the convenient sharing of information with health care providers.
“We are actively engaging with investors to participate in our seed funding round. The funding will be used to accelerate our product development and commercialisation initiatives including expanding our global footprint,” says Michael van der Linde, co-founder of Augmental Technologies.
Made available on app stores in July after two years of research and development, Tracto is already used by more than 200 parents to manage their kids’ mental health care journeys. Two prominent South African primary schools, Table View Primary and Shelanti Private School (rated one of the top remedial schools in South Africa) have also started using Tracto to improve collaboration with parents to support their learners.
Van der Linde points out that, according to the latest Global Burden of Disease study (http://www.healthdata.org/gbd/2019
), there were 227 million children affected by mental health conditions in 2019.
“Although we have yet to understand the true impact the pandemic has had on the mental health of children and their families, based on the feedback from the parents, schools and health care providers we closely work with, Covid-19 has undoubtedly taken its toll on the mental health of children and their families.”
In 2019, Augmental Technologies started collaborating with parents, teachers, health care providers and other experts to learn how technology could be used to help children thrive living with mental health or neurodiverse conditions, including ADHD, autism, and anxiety.
The close collaboration led them to identify three key problems:
Concerns over the quality-of-care decision-making:
Parents and teachers mentioned that they are typically asked to report on a child’s symptoms or behaviour over the last six months (or more) and felt that they were unable to objectively do so, due to not being able to accurately remember. Care providers also mentioned that they often struggle to gain a holistic view of the child’s care journey, which would support better care decisions.
Supporting a child on their mental health care journey requires teamwork between parents, teachers, and care providers. This communication is mostly paper-based and takes tremendous effort which sometimes hampers it from happening at all.
Access to affordable and timely care:
The team came to learn that having to wait months before getting your child the necessary care is a common problem faced by parents both in South Africa and in developed countries all over the globe. The associated cost of care was also raised as a serious concern by parents. This is often a reason for a child not gaining access to the appropriate care. Transforming the way parents, teachers and care providers work together to support children
“Based on the learnings and confident that technology could play an important role in supporting children living with mental health or neurodiverse conditions to thrive, we founded Augmental Technologies,” says Van der Linde.
The team, consisting of Van der Linde, co-founder Herman Lintvelt, head of business development Eva Minkov, clinical advisor professor Pieter Fourie and senior software engineer Hendrik Schalekamp, combined their expertise in software development, mental health care, data science, and digital product management. The collaboration has one goal in mind.
“Our mission is to build a digital health platform that transforms the way parents, teachers and care providers work together to support children on their mental health care journey.”
The team ran pilot groups in South Africa and Canada to refine the product, and in early 2021 received pre-seed funding allowing the founders to focus full-time on realising the mission.Tracto
was launched in July 2021 on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Tracto aims to directly address the identified key problems:
To infinity and beyond
- Simplify teamwork by allowing parents and teachers to track care symptoms, side-effects and concerns easily and collaboratively. Parents and teachers are also able to configure reminders for medication, activities, and assessments to help the team stay on track.
- Support care decision-making by empowering parents, or the care champions as we call them, with a holistic, integrated view of their child’s care progress over time. The care history can easily be shared with various care providers (paediatricians, psychiatrists, psychologists, and other therapists) to inform future care decision-making.
- Improve access to care by delivering affordable digital therapies and tools directly to parents which they can access from anywhere at any time. Although this is not available in the application yet, we plan to release our first two Parent Training programs later this year.
“Since our launch in July we already have over 200 parents (and growing) managing their children’s mental health care journey using Tracto and two prominent South African primary schools, Shelanti Private School and Table View Primary School, have started using Tracto to improve collaboration with parents to support their learners,” says Herman Lintvelt, co-founder of Augmental Technologies..
“This is a great milestone for us, but only a small step in what we are ultimately planning.”Get involved
“Investors are invited to get in touch with us and discover how we can work together to accelerate our development and commercialisation,” says Lintvelt.https://augmentaltech.com
Contact us: moc.hcetlatnemgua@olleh