Faster mental health treatment could reduce financial burden on the NHS, improve outcomes

The study, which is one of the largest of its kind to date, analyzed anonymized data, and was conducted by ieso Digital Health Ltd in partnership with Dorset HealthCare University NHS Trust and York Health Economics Consortium (part of the University of York).

Faster mental health treatment could reduce financial burden on the NHS, improve outcomes

Image Credit: ieso Digital Health

According to the study, shortening treatment and waiting times for mental health conditions from twelve months to three months, could reduce the financial burden on the NHS and improve treatment outcomes and therefore quality of lives for millions of people across the UK.

This could also mean a future annual saving of around £600 million on average for people with all levels of anxiety and depression severities, by helping the estimated nearly 7.1 million people currently in need, but are not accessing NHS Talking Therapies.

NHS Talking Therapies for anxiety and depression can help with common mental health problems, also including stress. They are effective and confidential treatments delivered by fully trained and accredited NHS practitioners.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg” comments Ana Catarino, Director of Clinical Science at ieso. “The prevalence of mental health conditions is increasing due to the cost-of-living crisis and the fallout from the pandemic, with one in six UK adults believed to have depression or anxiety, that’s 9 million adults, so, the savings could actually be in the hundreds of millions.”

Using health-economic modeling that utilized real-world mental health systems data, the report compared the cost-effectiveness of different interventions, to show the principal drivers of healthcare costs in relation to waiting and treatment times, and treatment effectiveness. The study also aimed to identify the economic and health impacts of different types of mental health care on the NHS.

The findings from this study go beyond treatment type or modality, there is no one-size fits all approach in mental health, and what works for some people may not work for others. What our study shows is that to alleviate human suffering and reduce economic impact on society, timely access to effective mental healthcare interventions is key.”

Ana Catarino, Director of Clinical Science, ieso

In most healthcare systems the clinical effectiveness of mental healthcare remains unquantified, and long treatment times are common.

Real patient data is crucial to uncovering more about the causes of mental health conditions, and why different people respond better to different types of therapy. This information can be used to make existing products and services more effective, and to develop new ones.‍

Andrew Welchman, Executive Vice President of Impact at ieso, comments: “Modeling real-world healthcare data in this way, allowed us to show how important it is to provide rapid access to effective mental health treatment.

“Further to this, the study has provided important insights into the key factors influencing health and economic outcomes. As this data was used to track individuals through their treatment in a real-world setting, it provided information on number of sessions, waiting times, treatment requirements, and engagement with treatment, which reflected true human behavior in a clinical practice.”

The report further showed that treatment costs are minimal compared to background medical costs and costs associated with losses in quality of life for the patient.

Sam Harper, Research Consultant at York Health Economics Consortium, adds: “This report represents our collaborative efforts to develop a new understanding of mental health care that may assist those in charge of commissioning services in this area.  Whilst comparing online therapy to standard care, the results of our study indicates that the right therapy delivered in a timely manner can increase quality of life and reduce costs for people by utilizing real, anonymized patient data to examine how people's treatment outcomes are related to the therapy they received. These results are predominantly driven by a reduced need for costly resources that are traditionally required.”

Morad Margoum, Deputy Service Director Children, Young People & Families, Mental Health & Learning Disabilities, at Dorset HealthCare University NHS Trust, comments: “This report exemplifies the pursuit of learning, not only to improve the evidence base, but to transition representation into reality through real world application.

“This kind of joint working uses the best of our unique assets, ieso,  The University of York and Dorset HealthCare, to show what can be done when we work in partnership to learn for the improvement of psychological treatments and ultimately, society. Only by learning from what we’ve done in the past can we ensure further improvement for our patients in the future.”

Moving forward, ieso is focussing on developing scalable digital solutions that combine human care and computer-delivered therapy.  These solutions can be rapidly deployed and extend the reach of individual therapists, helping deliver fast access to highly-effective care that will improve the lives of millions of people suffering from poor mental health.

Dr Andy Blackwell, Chief Science & Strategy Officer, at ieso, concludes: “This study exemplifies how real-world healthcare data can enable new discoveries and insights that could transform the clinical- and cost-effectiveness of care. By deploying a system of measurement for mental health treatments, the NHS has set a new standard for data-enabled care that could impact policy and care delivery not just in the UK but also in health systems around the world.”

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