Same school, new name. The School of Informatics and Computing is changing its name effective January 11, 2023. Learn more about the name change

School of Informatics and Computing Graduate Students Complete Care Unit Analysis for Mental Illness

June 17, 2013

The School of Informatics at IUPUI and White Pine Systems, LLC (dba SPINN), a leading provider of patient engagement solutions, announced that a team of Health Informatics graduate students has completed the Mental Health Care Unit (MHCU) analysis, proposing requirements for technology-enabled patient engagement that will improve operating efficiency and outcomes.

The MHCU analysis explores the challenges of treating people with addiction and mental illness and considers how online and mobile patient relationship management tools can improve outcomes and lower cost in community-based mental and addiction health programs.

Treatment of bipolar disorder, major depression, panic disorder, OCD and schizophrenia have been shown to improve health at rates that compare favorably to treatment of asthma & diabetes, cardiovascular disease and heart disease, yet fewer than one third of people with mental illness receive treatment. In some states, fewer than 10 percent of the people who need addiction treatment receive it, mostly as a result of limited access to care and stigma.

Recognizing the potential for online and mobile technology to help meet this need by expanding access to care and reducing stigma, Centerstone of Indiana and Recovery Consultants of Atlanta (RCA) asked White Pine and the School of Informatics to conduct the MHCU analysis.

“This is our third Care Unit project with White Pine and the School of Informatics at IUPUI,” said Linda Grove-Paul, Vice President for Addiction and Innovation Services at Centerstone of Indiana. “In the fall of 2011, we heard about White Pine’s success helping clinicians and patients in physical health. So we asked them to conduct a Care Unit Analysis for substance abuse. That system is now live and showing tremendous value in improved operating efficiency and health outcomes.

The next area that needed to be addressed was mental illness, “We heard about Centerstone’s success with the Substance Abuse Care Unit and called White Pine to see if they could help us with our population in Atlanta,” said Cassandra Collins, RCA’s Executive Director. “As a major urban center with a large homeless population, we simply can’t help all of those who need and want our services. Also, many of our people experience mental illness, so we know that the Substance Abuse Care Unit alone will not be enough for our community. This MHCU analysis is helping us figure out just how to address that.”

Mental illness poses unique challenges and opportunities, specifically around literacy levels and attention capacity. Through the MHCU analysis, a configuration of tools was developed that used info graphics—pictures instead of words—and doles the discussion out in bite-sized chunks that are easier to digest. “This is truly innovative work that has real promise of contributing to the Triple Aim.” said White Pine’s founder and CEO Doug Dormer.

For the past 5 years, the School of Informatics has worked with White Pine following their Care Unit Method. “Each semester, we have two teams of graduate students participate in these projects. So far, the teams have conducted analyses for Care Units including diabetes, hypertension, pregnancy, breast cancer, substance abuse, palliative health and Parkinson’s disease,” said Dr. Josette Jones, Associate Professor of Health Informatics at IUPUI. “Our students tell us this is one of the best projects in their graduate studies.”

For more information contact: Dr. Josette Jones at 317-274-8059 or

Media Contact

Joanne Lovrinic