For the last several years, the University of Washington Autism Center (UWAC) Apex therapeutic summer day camp, has used Motivity’s prototype digital data collection system in their 5-week summer program. The Summer Treatment Program utilizes a naturalistic day camp environment and structured recreational activities to teach behavioral and social skills to individuals with special needs. It serves over 130 children each summer; group therapy is conducted by 40 trained interventionists.
Over 25 different behaviors are tracked continuously throughout the day to monitor progress and develop individualized goals. Apex included a reward system in which children earn points for appropriate behavior, such as helping peers and staying on task, and lose points for behaviors targeted for decrease (such as aggression towards peers). At the end of each day, the points are tallied and each child redeems points for prizes.
As part of an NIH grant, we partnered with the Apex Program to conduct a field test with the goal of determining feasibility in a group setting as well as time and cost savings of using digital data collection.
Field Test to Measure Operational Efficiency
For the field test, children were divided into 8 groups of 12 children each; each group had 4-5 staff members facilitating group therapy. Staff collected thousands of behavioral data points a day. When they used paper, they had to transcribe the data into a spreadsheet, which took hours at the end of the day to complete followed by weekly data review sessions that required laborious manual analysis. Sounding familiar? After five weeks of use, over 70,000 behaviors were recorded.
A conservative analysis found that Motivity saved them over 1500 person-hours in the 5 weeks. That’s over $20,000 in labor costs! They reclaimed those hours by using them for clinical review and team meetings, which is having a major impact on their clinical outcomes.
Applied Research Results
Apex staff reported high satisfaction with Motivity, including usability, performance, and functionality (on surveys, 90% of users reported at least 4 out of 5 on all categories). The director, Dr. Aaronson, reported that Motivity allowed a much quicker evaluation of student progress, clinical responsiveness, and ability to provide comprehensive information to parents.
For example, a mom contacted Dr. Aronson to let him know that her child's psychiatrist made a medication adjustment at the beginning of the week, adding a new medication. They instructed them not to provide the child with the lunchtime medication, as they were trying to isolate the impact of various medications on behavior. By the end of the day, the data had a very clear answer for the team. He was able to quickly access and review the child's data, even before the day was over. He sent off the info to the family by 2:30 pm the same day, and they were able to send it along to their child’s care team.
“I wanted to take a moment to illustrate the time savings and clinical utility of the awesome tool you have built, Motivity,” said Dr. Benjamin Aaronson, director of Apex. “Our staff collects thousands of behavioral data points a day (we’ve already tracked nearly 1 million behaviors with Motivity!). When we used paper, we had to transcribe the data into a spreadsheet, which took hours at the end of every day to complete, followed by weekly data review sessions that used to require laborious manual analysis. By our conservative estimate, your software saves us over 1500 person-hours every summer! We have reclaimed those hours for clinical review and team meetings, which is having a major impact on our ability to serve the kids. And having immediate access to data is incredibly powerful.”