Demand for mental health services has increased since the COVID-19 epidemic. An estimated 1.6 million people are waiting for treatment in the UK alone, with another 8 million people not eligible for NHS assistance facing daily challenges.
Increasingly Digital Therapeutics (DTx) is being considered as an alternative to fill the gaps in healthcare provision. They are more likely to be woven into the patient’s journey, empowering patients while they wait for therapy, after discharge or combined with therapy.
Liz Ashall-Payne, Founder CEO of the Organization for the Review of Care and Health Apps (ORCHA), is a firm believer in the power of these digital tools, which will be discussed in detail at HIMSS22 Europe next month. ORCHA’s consumer research has found that young people and women with children at home especially appreciate the flexibility and discretion of the DTX offer.
“DTX has great potential to access mental health care in an uneven way. They offer a confidential, affordable, and convenient route to support, ”said Ashall-Payne.
Yet in ORCHA’s 614 DTx evaluation, half of the tested apps have fallen below the quality threshold. How can we ensure that the therapies on offer are safe, secure and effective?
“It’s important for people to be concerned about data security and clinical efficacy,” admits Ashall-Payne. “An immediate first step for any organization is to proactively instruct the public for secure digital health to be evaluated against quality standards.”
He added that the inclusion of healthcare professionals in the assessment process is crucial.
“When a digital health recommendation comes from a healthcare professional, the acceptance rate is higher and research has shown that you are 100 times more likely to be satisfied with an app,” he explains.
Working with ORCHA NHS in the UKAs well as establishing DTx’s library for mental health support in Canada and the Netherlands.
“The technology needs to be secure and healthcare workers need to be able to recommend and prescribe these tools to patients when needed. In short, we need to have an infrastructure that resonates with what we already have for our medicine, “Ashal-Pain concluded.
Cut the red ribbon
During the epidemic, startups faced the challenge of providing digital equipment, as demand for mental health services increased and lockdowns restricted access to personal support services.
The offer includes countless innovative solutions Clinician based virtual care sessionsMental health platforms work to connect communities and the Meditation and Sleep-Assistance App6
“Startups are key drivers of the digital mental health revolution,” said Laura Break, Allied for Startups (AFS) health project officer, a global umbrella of startup associations. “Startups have brought this unprecedented opportunity to offer fast, innovative and flexible solutions for people around the world.”
Runs AFS DTx projectWhich brings together more than 45 digital health entrepreneurs, policymakers and other healthcare stakeholders to support innovation in Europe.
“The availability of digital solutions on mobile phones or laptops contributes to the democratization of healthcare and is one step closer to making universal access to care a reality,” Brock added.
However, startups often have limited resources devoted to decoding the bureaucracy around issues such as compensation schemes, health data access, or interoperability standards.
According to Brock, entrepreneurs need to be empowered with the right tools for successful mental health innovations to reach the market. He sees the integration of health technology policy ecosystems across Europe as an important step in overcoming barriers for entrepreneurs.
“A major hurdle facing digital health entrepreneurs is navigating fragmented and overly complex regulations. To build a strong health union across Europe, entrepreneurs need to scale only once – not 27 times, “he said.
Launched by AFS Healthtech Charter To be successful across Europe in 2021 is a collection of best practices for the most empowering policies and measures for digital health innovation.
“This gives the EU the opportunity to become a hub of the digital health scaleup and sets the benchmark for policy makers to know what innovators need to succeed. We urge policymakers and ecosystem makers to consider the startup approach to advancing digital therapeutics in Europe and beyond, ”Brock explained.
Ashal-Pain and Brock will speak at the session Advances in Digital Therapeutics in Mental Health: Improving Lifestyle and Tackling Inequality HIMSS22 at the European Health Conference and Exhibition, which is being held June 14-16, 2022.