News, NHS trust

Headset and behaviour training app offered as depression treatment option in Northamptonshire

Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is offering a headset and behaviour training app as a treatment option for patients with depression, with the ‘Flow’ headset delivering  transcranial direct current stimulation treatment and patients using the app to control the headset and monitor progress.

The app contains training modules on topics such as behaviour activation, mindfulness, physical exercise for your brain, and an anti-depression diet. Patients use Flow in their own homes for 30 minutes five times per week over a three-week period, with that number either reducing or coming to an end as time goes on depending on the patient’s needs.

Patients with a diagnosis of depression are being offered the treatment from the community mental health teams, specialist perinatal mental health services and maternal loss psychology services, and researchers note that the treatment has “seen significant improvements on measures of depression severity, meaningful activity functioning, and quality of life”.

Will McIlhiney, community mental health practitioner, said: “Being able to offer Flow has been very well received from our patient group. One of the common themes I notice when I discuss Flow with a patient is that people feel optimistic that there are other options for them when they have not recovered with anti-depressants alone or found them intolerable. Many of our patients are interested in an intervention which is not a medication or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). The choice is very valuable to them.”

He added that patients have “generally reported positive outcomes” and although the treatment option will not suit everyone, there has been “significantly less concern about side effects than when exploring other traditional medication options. The convenience of using the device is also well regarded when compared to other options.”

For practitioners, Will said, Flow’s clinical portal through which engagement with the treatment can be noted is “so incredibly useful. Being able to monitor usage as well as regularly updated psychometric scoring really helps monitor patients. We can also see good engagement with the CBT based modules in the app which helps us when we work with patients that they have some understanding of techniques already that we might otherwise take time to explore in a session.

On wearables, an article from npj digital medicine has evaluated the potential for the fusion of data collected from wearables to present “an effective data fusion framework” to contribute to more holistic approach to monitoring health, with the authors highlighting that “combining information from distinct sensor systems enhances the dimensionality of measurements and increases our understanding”, and as such “fusion techniques will play a pivotal role in transforming healthcare by providing personalised and comprehensive solutions”.

In other news from the region, Northampton General Hospital (NGH) NHS Trust has announced the selection of its preferred electronic patient record supplier, with Nervecentre chosen to deliver a ten-year programme to “create exciting new opportunities to transform healthcare services at NGH and propel the trust’s digital capabilities to HIMSS level 5 and beyond.”