In conversation: Clare Hurley and Rachel Websdale on ieso’s partnership with the NHS
Global mental health is in crisis.
According to the World Health Organisation, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the global prevalence of anxiety and depression to increase by a massive 25%.
ieso is addressing this by developing clinically evidenced assessment and treatment tools through the analysis of over 500 million data points in our outcome-linked mental health dataset. This allows us to decode the active components of therapy and enables ground-breaking research.
For over a decade now, ieso has been in partnership with the NHS to improve patient outcomes, treating over 90,000 patients using our AI-powered, therapist-delivered, online therapy service. ieso's online text-based CBT has proven effective in increasing accessibility, improving recovery rates, and reducing wait times.
Our ongoing partnership with the NHS has yielded compelling research insights. The recent collaboration with Dorset HealthCare led not only to more efficient ways of providing care but to ground-breaking advances in our fundamental understanding of depression.
ieso’s analysis of DHC’s outcome-linked data identified areas for improvement, including better deployment of resources to improve cost-effectiveness and clinical outcomes. This led to us being shortlisted for Best Mental Health Partnership with the NHS at the HSJ Partnership Awards 2022.
Rachel Websdale, ieso’s NHS Market Development Director who has previously worked in the NHS and now works closely with our partners, sat down to talk with our new EVP for Clinical, Clare Hurley, who has recently joined us from Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust. Together, they discussed the global mental health crisis and how our partnership with the NHS has enabled us to help tackle it and will continue to do so.
Rachel: So Clare, what part do you see ieso playing in tackling the global mental health crisis?
Clare: In global terms, ieso has demonstrated that therapy and treatment can effectively be delivered online. We’ve credibly proved this through analysis of the clinical data our platform has responsibly collected. Further than that, we’ve shown how that data can be used for research that improves treatment. For example, it has been shown many times internationally that CBT is the most effective type of treatment for depression, but nobody’s known exactly what parts of it work most effectively and why, but now we’re starting to unpick this. This was shown through the research ieso’s Director of Clinical Science, Dr Ana Catarino did with her team and the University of Sheffield where they used this data to identify multiple subtypes of depression, which may allow patients to be given more precise treatment.
But looking beyond just depression, we’ve demonstrated that there’s an effective model for a data and AI-driven approach to improve healthcare – which is potentially applicable to all kinds of treatment anywhere in the world.
Rachel: Coming back to the UK now, what is the story so far of the partnership between ieso and the NHS?
Clare: One of the biggest achievements to come from our partnership with the NHS is that we’ve been able to offer patients choice – not all patients want to go to face-to-face therapy, and many are unable to. Maybe people can’t get childcare or have long-term health conditions that make it difficult to leave the house, whatever the reason, being able to access mental healthcare online massively empowers patients and at a time of day that works for the patient – we work evenings and weekends so we are very patient-centred.
On top of that we’ve been able to demonstrate that for some people online therapy is not only just as effective as traditional face-to-face therapy, but actually can be more effective - our partnership has managed to achieve recovery rates of over 60% in recent years - well above the IAPT target of 50%, and makes us one of the best performing providers.
Coming back again to the research we’ve done, we build the tools to analyse the data, but that data comes from the treatment we provide patients alongside the NHS - it’s the partnership that makes it possible, and we are learning from this data every day, so that we can provide the best possible treatment.
Rachel: And what’s next for ieso, and its partnership with the NHS?
Clare: Our main focus will be to continue working together to improve patient outcomes. We’ll do that by increasing patient recovery rates, but also by making therapy more effective so patients recover faster. This is good both at the individual level and also more broadly as it will reduce waiting times and relieve demand on the NHS as a whole.
We’ll also continue to improve patient experience. It’s important to us and to the NHS to ensure the digital tools we’re using meet the highest ethical standards. This will mean continuing to monitor patient satisfaction but also potentially giving patients the opportunity to add their voices to discussions about the future of digital therapeutics. They’re going to play a big role in the future of healthcare, and we want to be responsible innovators and make sure they’re as safe, secure and effective as possible, so when they’re used alongside therapy they produce optimal outcomes.
Ultimately, through our science, clinician, and impact teams working closely together with our partners in the NHS, we aim to create a centre of clinical excellence.
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