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Technology meets tradition with new GP clinic to improve mental health

User AvatarPosted by Amanda Crawford at 03/07/2019 14:51:09

People in Faversham who are feeling low will be able to take advantage of a trailblazing new project to help boost their mental health.

Nearly £1million has been awarded to fund a pilot clinic at Newton Place Surgery, which uses a smartphone app to help people with low mood, anxiety or depression.

The funding award from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, has been handed to a partnership to advance research into how digital technology can improve treatment for depression. The partnership is made up of Newton Place Surgery, NHS Canterbury and Coastal Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), P1vital Products Ltd, University of Kent, and Maidstone and Mid-Kent Mind.

The pilot will run for a year from Saturday 6 July and is open to all people who live in Faversham. People can either be referred to the clinic from their own GP or other health and social care professional or they can simply turn up on the day.

They will be asked to login to an app, called i-spero®, and register details about how they are feeling. This is then looked at by a GP, along with their GP record, to determine what sort of treatment is needed, whether medication needs to be changed, and who the patient needs to see at the clinic.

The clinics are held at Newton Place and are staffed by a multidisciplinary team of health and social care professionals, including One You Kent lifestyle advisers and staff from Faversham Counselling.

i-spero® has been developed by P1vital Products Ltd, with Maidstone and Mid-Kent Mind working with patients to develop the service. Once the pilot is complete, it will be evaluated by the University of Kent.

Dr Vanessa Short, from Newton Place Surgery, said: “This is a groundbreaking project where we have funding to develop an app and see how this technology works alongside a multidisciplinary team in real life. At the end of it we will see how this integrated approach can improve care.

“There is no other service like this in the country which uses new technology together with a traditional group of clinicians. The app means we can quickly deal with any issues as they happen rather than waiting for a patient to make an appointment by which time their condition has often deteriorated. It might be that a patient needs to be put in touch with a voluntary organisation or a walking group – it depends what is the best match for the patient’s needs. Whatever the plan is, the patient can be in control by recording progress on the app.”

Caroline Selkirk, managing director for the four east Kent clinical commissioning groups, said: “Digital healthcare technologies have the potential to dramatically improve the way we can help our patients in a way that is affordable and sustainable. I’m really keen to see the results of this work and how it could potentially be used again in the future.”

As well as storing details about appointments, i-spero® also provides patients with personalised predictions, guided by an algorithm, which can give an early indication if a treatment is not working. This can help doctors, working with their patients, to quickly identify an effective treatment plan.

Professor Guy Goodwin, Chief Medical Officer at P1vital Products Ltd and Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford Department of Psychiatry, said: “Under current care approaches, patients experiencing depression can receive care in a piecemeal fashion with antidepressants prescribed in a trial-and-error process that can take many months to resolve. The technology embedded in the i-spero® system has the potential to accelerate the process of identifying effective treatments and provides clinicians with the tools they need to provide more integrated care, ultimately helping patients get better faster and then stay well.”