During quarantine, some people took up knitting, others restructured their workout routines, and even more spent a great deal of time watching Tiger King. Bryan Krehnbrink, a UNC School of Medicine psychologist, used his pandemic time to hone a different type of skill.
“I guess other people were baking bread and I was at home trying to learn how to code,” Krehnbrink said.
After struggling to connect with his patients online, Krehnbrink started developing a software that would not only improve the provider-patient intake process but also incorporate more DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) efforts into the mental health community. And so was born Chapel Hill-based Inclusive Intakes. The startup is participating in the current cohort of the Launch Chapel Hill Accelerator.
Rather than a standard health form to fill out, Inclusive Intakes is modernizing the process of acquiring patient information in a more people-friendly and digital way.
“The technology allows us to individualize or personalize intakes,” Krehnbrink said.
The construction of Inclusive Intakes has centered around adolescent mental health and attempting to mitigate the youth mental health crisis, Kehnbrink said. Instead of having a teen feel interrogated, Kehnbrink hopes his interactive media will allow mental health providers to get a better sense of who they’re connecting with before their first session.
“There’s a thousand opportunities for me to say the wrong thing,” Krehnbrink added. He said that by assessing a patient’s needs through a screen, the provider has more information on how to customize a patient’s care.
A prospective user of the site can first designate a group they belong to such as “teen,” “college undergrad,” “parent of a teenager,” and many more. They can then choose a guide to virtually walk them through the interactive process, which is where the DEI focus of the startup is centered.
These guides aim to add representation to the process, so the patient feels more comfortable going through their mental health assessment alongside someone they identify with.
One issue Krehnbrink noted in representation within the psychology field is that only 3% of psychiatrists are Black and only a quarter of them see adolescents. It will take years until the realm of mental health starts to see more diversity within providers, he added, but using digital “guides” in the intake process is a step in the right direction.
“I feel like this is what we can do right now,” Krehnbrink said.
Moving forward, Krehnbrink has plans to recruit more diversity onto his own team so he can expand the number of employees and guides available for users. Currently, most of the startup’s network consists of his own family.
Inclusive Intakes is currently in its beta-testing phase with a clinic, and Krehnbrink said he wants to spread the software to a variety of clinics in the future—so patients feel more comfortable and providers can more efficiently access their information.
Krehnbrink hopes Inclusive Intakes will become the “gold standard” for conducting patient intakes, and eventually, he plans to use Inclusive Intakes data for mental health research.
Long term, Krehnbrink’s biggest goal is to help the world transition from mental illness to mental health.