Global, 21st century digital solutions for mental health and wellbeing

About Project Synergy

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The Australian Government has provided funds to InnoWell to deliver a series of research trials over three years, in partnership with service providers, health professionals and people with a lived experience of mental health. The funding for these research trials was issued as part of the current government’s policy to Strengthen Mental Health Care in Australia.

In addition to the research trials, Project Synergy also includes the largest ever national community consultation as well as comprehensive sector engagement.

Underpinned by Research and Development

InnoWell procured the research services of The University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre to provide an independent research and development group (R&D Group). The R&D group will conduct research trials that will continue the co-design and evaluation of the Synergy Online System within different settings across the lifespan (i.e. young children, young people, adults, healthy older adults) as well as the broader veteran community.


Driven by Lived Experience

InnoWell has recruited 25 individuals from across Australia against a comprehensive diversity matrix to join the Lived Experience Advisory Board. This Board provides expert, balanced and timely advice regarding issues affecting Australians in relation to their wellbeing, mental health, mental ill health and suicide prevention. All members of the Lived Experience Advisory Board have individual personal experience of mental health issues or experience of supporting those who have mental health issues. Members of the Board are involved in co-creating and co-designing the eplatform based on their experiences.


Enabled by Technology

To provide a seamless and engaging experience for end users (including individuals, health professionals and service providers), the Synergy Online System needs to be robust, flexible, scalable, real-time and (most importantly) accessible to large, diverse populations.

The technology choices across the product stack is critical in achieving these requirements so we’ve chosen the following approaches:

  • Infrastructure: We use Google Cloud Platform as our back-end infrastructure. Google’s commitment to global-first solutions enables us to scale quickly and cheaply, whilst their expansion locally allows us to remain compliant with policies such as the Australian Privacy Principles for sensitive health data.
  • Back-end code: We use ‘Ruby on Rails’ as our back-end technology. We need a framework that is robust, secure, scalable, and battle-tested. Many websites (including Twitter, Airbnb, Bloomberg and Kickstarter) rely on Rails’ and importantly it is an open-source, convention-based framework with a large online community supporting it.
  • Front-end code: To ensure all end users’ experience is real time, accessible and robust (particularly in areas of low Internet connectivity) we use GraphQL, Relay and React. This is the same front-end technology Facebook uses to achieve the engaging, real time outcome.
  • Privacy: The Synergy Online System complies with the Australian Privacy Principles and aligns with government guidelines issued by the Australian Signals Directorate (Essential 8 and Information Security Manual), and the ISO 27001, which provides specification for information security management systems and is generally accepted as the industry standard.
  • Security: One of InnoWell’s foremost focal points is security for its data and users. We have engaged industry experts to formally review each product and the respective infrastructure on a recurring basis against best practice enterprise-grade security standards. We have also appointed a Chief Information Security Officer to manage our security policies and adherence.


The Research Trials

The research trials will continue the co-design, development, implementation and evaluation of the Synergy Online System (software as a medical device), within different settings across the lifespan broadly including young children (aged two to 12 years), young people (aged 12 to 25 years), adults through to healthy older adults (aged 26 years and over) as well as the broader veteran community (including current and ex-serving personnel and their families).

The first three trials have commenced in early 2018 and include:

  • Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS);
  • North Coast Primary Health Network and a cluster of five headspace centres; and
  • The Butterfly Foundation’s National Helpline ED HOPE.

Future trial partners are currently being identified and are selected through a process that includes the involvement of major stakeholders.

A dedicated Project Synergy website is due to be available from June 2018.