A closer look at the new NHSX mental health digital playbook

NHSX launched its new ‘mental health digital playbook’ earlier this week, to provide the NHS with real-world examples of how to “use digital ways of working” to “improve outcomes for patients”.

Earlier this year, NHSX also released an eye care digital playbook, a resource for eye care specialists seeking to digitally enhance their ophthalmology pathways. With the addition of the new mental health guide, the organisation’s archive of digital playbooks now totals eight, with the full roster including: cardiology, respiratory, dermatology, mental health, musculoskeletal (MSK), eye care, gastroenterology, and cancer.

NHSX says the playbook collection has been “developed to support clinical teams to reimagine and redesign care pathways” by “showcasing tried and tested technologies to solve real-world problems”. They enable health tech and clinical staff to find out about challenges, solutions, and best practice.

In the mental health edition, alongside the focus on digital pathways, it states that “key learning has been highlighted across a range of areas including stakeholder engagement, governance, usability and system readiness for change”.

The resource lays out seven potential ‘scenarios’ to help guide users to what they may find useful, with situations covered including: providing remote monitoring services, how to communicate with patients and help them access support more easily, facilitating the provision of joined-up care to improve patient experience, setting up electronic prescribing and medicines administration (EPMA), using analytics and dashboards to provide better care at the point of care, reducing waiting times and helping patients receive therapy faster, and providing easily accessible information to aid recovery.

Each scenario takes the user to a grid of case studies that provide examples of similar situations and how the digital solutions were implemented, as well as key learnings and useful contacts.

The playbook also provides an extensive, suggested mental health digital pathway, which it calls a “step by step guide”. This maps out the stages of the pathway with links to the relevant case studies that may be applicable or useful for care at that point in potential patient journeys.

The pathway begins with primary care and Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), referral, community/outpatients for coordinated care provision, and inpatient interventions to “improve patient outcomes and experience in hospital”, before moving onto speciality specific services, crises services, mental health in physical settings for joined-up/shared care approaches, and holistic management and self-care.

Case studies featured in the latest playbook include:

  • Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust – Using an electronic prescribing and medicines administration system (EPMA) in high secure services
  • Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust – Maximising the benefits of mobile working when covering a large geographical area
  • Hertfordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust – Co-developing a mobile application with young service users
  • Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust – The digital ward – using mobile technology in the inpatient ward environment
  • NHS City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group – A digital recovery platform for severe mental illness
  • Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust – Improving access to psychological therapies through online therapies and consultations.

There are around 18 case studies in total, covering the breadth of the country – from York, Lancashire and Cumbria to London – that focus on a range of areas, and all have “either passed, or are currently undergoing the Digital Technology Assessment Criteria (DTAC) assessment”.

To view the NHSX mental health digital playbook and read its case studies in full, click here.