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Wake-up and smell the AI: Why AI is part of the solution to the World Health Organization’s latest mental health care wake-up call

17 May 2022
By
Dani Smallbone

Everyone deserves to live a fulfilling life. This is our core belief here at ieso. Our shared mission is to prevent unnecessary suffering from common mental health problems, like anxiety and depression, globally.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide, according to a recent scientific briefing from the World Health Organization (WHO). The need is pressing.

In the words of Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General:

“The information we have now about the impact of COVID-19 on the world’s mental health is just the tip of the iceberg. This is a wake-up call to all countries to pay more attention to mental health and do a better job of supporting their populations’ mental health.”  

AI has a proven role to play: the World Economic Forum’s view

At ieso, we’ve been aware of the growing mental health care crisis surrounding us – and have been dedicated to increasing access to clinically-validated mental health care support. We believe in responsible AI.

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF):

“AI can help make treatments faster and more effective. It could become part of the solution, benefitting a diversity of people.”

In their short video above, WEF shares how ieso therapists are using AI to become better at their clinical work. They explain how our AI analyses the language therapists and patients use in sessions. This gives therapists more insight into what’s working and allows them to help their patients more effectively.

“Proud to work with a company that puts the needs of clients at the heart of its work, enabling therapists at ieso to continue to offer the best treatment for the client.”

Tanya Weston, Clinician, ieso

As WEF highlights, analysing session transcripts by hand is time-consuming and only produces a very small sample size. A computer can analyse vast amounts of data very quickly.  

We’re pioneering this approach. In fact, we’ve analysed over 1 billion words from around 95,000 patients treated over 10 years - and still counting. That’s more than half a million therapy sessions.  

Read more about our approach in this MIT Technology Review article. Or, if you want to dig deeper, you can check out our scientific paper ‘Understanding the relationship between patient language and outcomes in internet-enabled cognitive behavioural therapy: A deep learning approach to automatic coding of session transcripts’.  

As ieso patients and therapists get better, so do AI solutions

We are currently treating around 4,000 patients at any given time. We are always capturing actionable insights, to better understand the active ingredients of effective therapy. As patients and therapists get better, so will our future innovations.

What will the future of mental health care look like? What does responsible AI look like in the mental health care space?

The future of responsible AI in the mental health care space is Digital Therapeutics – or “DTx” for short. DTx is an emerging category of medicine that treats, manages, and prevents a broad spectrum of diseases and disorders by delivering clinical interventions directly to patients using evidence-based, clinically evaluated software.

Until recently, DTx in the mental health care space meant digital tools that were built on what technology could deliver, rather than on what patients needed. That meant rigid user interfaces that provided the same experience to all patients, with designs based on the ‘average patient’ and content extracted from manuals used for training clinical staff. We’re changing that by developing scalable, clinically led, AI-driven, personalised mental healthcare solutions that increase access and improve clinical outcomes.

ieso is building the next generation of DTx solutions, solutions that will:  

·        Make access to clinically validated mental healthcare easier and quicker for patients

·        Reduce treatment costs and improve provider accountability  

·        Help more patients recover, faster.

Dani Smallbone
Wake-up and smell the AI: Read part one of our three-part series ‘The Future of Mental Health Care'
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