NHS mental health services pilot AI-based self-referral platform

Four NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services recently piloted an AI-based self-referral platform.

During the initial month-long trial, before being deployed permanently, the Limbic Access platform reportedly saved an average of 20 minutes per referral, which roughly equates to 430 weeks of patient waiting time and 86 hours of clinical time, the company said.

Through its partnership with Vita Health Group, Limbic Access gathers key information on behalf of mental healthcare providers, with an aim to reduce wait times and send patients straight to the waitlist for treatment.

The platform integrates with the NHS API and supports services automatically pre-screen incoming referrals, and then signpost them to other services or identify the appropriate treatment pathway.

Dr Ross Harper, CEO and Co-founder of Limbic, said: “As a result of both the pandemic’s backlog of patients and the increased number of people entering mental health services, patient referrals into NHS talk therapy services are expected to triple. However, service capacities are not expected to increase anytime soon.

“One particular pain point is the clinical assessment process. This is typically a resource and admin heavy process for staff. Our tool automates elements of this process to save care providers time and help patients bypass the average 22 day wait for an assessment.

“Clinical assessments are not the only element of mental healthcare that could benefit from digital solutions. However, psychological therapy is fundamentally a human discipline and so automation is not appropriate for every aspect of care. Rather, technological solutions will need to amplify the powers of clinicians and enable things like remote monitoring and triage at scale.

“Technology needs to support mental health professionals with better data to speed up treatment formulation and psychoeducation.”

Limbic Access will now look towards implementation in more IAPTs within Vita Health Group’s network.