Jaspr: Using Avatars in Emergency Departments with Suicidal Patients Brings New Hope

By August 19, 2020 December 15th, 2021 News

David Jobes, PhD

Suicidology Expert, Founder of CAMS-Care

“With 10,600,000 adult Americans struggling with serious suicidal ideation each year, we need any and all help possible to address that suffering in the service of saving more lives from suicide. As our research continues to unfold, I am convinced that Jaspr can play a key role in that pursuit”.
- David Jobes, PhD

Key Takeaways

  • Avatars, aka digital assistants, can improve experience for individuals seeking help for suicide crises in emergency departments.
  • Digital technology helps cope post-discharge by making the crisis stability plan created in the emergency department and other resources easily available on the person’s mobile phone.
  • Jaspr is designed to play a key role in the pursuit of saving more lives from suicide each year.

What would the results be for suicidal patients in emergency departments (EDs) if we created an all new avatar-based intervention using a modified version of CAMS as the heart of the assessment and intervention?

That was the question that Dr. Jobes partnered with Dr. Linda Dimeff and Dr. Kelly Koerner to try to answer half a dozen years ago.  The Phase I NIMH SBIR grant supported the creation and preliminary investigation of “Dr. Dave”—an avatar based on Dr. Jobes. Instead of hours of waiting, a digital assistant immediately enables access to work through a CAMS-based Suicide Status Interview (SSI) assessment to begin crisis stabilization and gather important information for the care team.

Based on the success of the Phase I study, the team received a Phase II SBIR grant from NIMH to conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of this new ED-based intervention.  While still using avatars in the assessment process, “Dr. Dave” has been replaced by Jaz, a digital assistant of a kind-looking woman, and Jaspr, a kind-looking creature (patients reports a 50/50 split on whom they prefer).

Jaspr Health has become a tablet-based intervention experience for patients, which allows scalable, standardized access to four of the top evidence-based practices for suicide prevention. Jaspr and Jaz introduce patients to a variety of menu options for patients to use while in the ED, including a “Comfort and Skills” library designed to distract, de-agitate, and teach patients valuable evidence-based techniques such as distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and mindfulness. The digital agent also guides patients to a “Shared Stories” library, with messages of hope and wisdom from diverse people with lived experience of suicide crises.

To get a feel for the Jaspr experience, check out a 2 minute YouTube video at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9zbM8jEsvY&feature=youtu.be

In the last year, Jaspr Health was tested in a rigorous RCT comparing care-as-usual to care-as-usual plus Jaspr in EDs at two healthcare systems in the mid-west. Preliminary results showed Jaspr Health improved delivery of recommended suicide prevention interventions, decreased patients’ agitation and distress, and improved patients’ learning of skills to cope with return of suicidal urges. The team at Jaspr Health are encouraged that their software platform can help scale standardized high-quality care to people in suicide crisis and support care providers who are stretched to their limits.

See Dr. Jobes full article for more details on the evolution and research that went into developing Jaspr Health’s digital assistants. https://cams-care.com/resources/blog/jaspr-using-avatars-in-emergency-departments-with-suicidal-patients-brings-new-hope/

Learn More About Dr. Jobes’ Work at: https://cams-care.com

Press Contact
Marcus Kako