NICE publishes early guidance assessment for three technologies to manage symptoms of psychosis and prevent relapse in adults and young people

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published an early guidance assessment providing recommendations on health technologies to help manage symptoms of psychosis and prevent relapse in adults and young people.

Three digital solutions have been included in the assessment: AVATAR Therapy, for managing auditory verbal hallucinations (hearing voices); SlowMo, for managing distressing thoughts or paranoia; and CareLoop, for monitoring symptoms of psychosis to prevent relapse.

The assessment at this stage aims to support earlier patient and system access in the NHS whilst further evidence is generated. Following the commitment to generate data and analysis over the next three years, NICE will “review the evidence and assess if the technologies can be routinely adopted in the NHS”.

NICE adds that “care for people living with severe mental illness hasn’t changed significantly for decades” and notes that their “aim is to transform care using digital technology to support service user participation and to prevent escalation by predicting personalised early warning signs for timely intervention.”

The technologies include:

  • AVATAR Therapy, allowing people to create a digital representation (an avatar) of their distressing voice. Over six to 12 sessions, the individual is encouraged to engage in dialogue with this avatar to take power and control within the conversation. The avatar is voiced by a mental health professional, trained in this technology, with the tech allowing a three‑way conversation between the person hearing voices, the avatar and the mental health professional.
  • SlowMo, a blended digital therapy designed to help people to be aware of symptoms of psychosis, fast thinking and reasoning, with the aim of helping to slow down thoughts. It is delivered in eight sessions by a trained mental health professional who can access modules and interactive features using the SlowMo web app. People using SlowMo can also synchronise the content to a mobile app on their smartphone, so that they can use it outside of sessions.
  • CareLoop, aiming to prevent relapse by identifying worsening symptoms. People using it regularly record symptoms, thoughts and feelings in an app using questionnaires and journal entries. CareLoop includes an algorithm that aims to recognise worsening mental health and potential relapse, with this information shared with mental health professionals who can then provide early interventions to prevent relapse.

However, NICE states that “the technologies can only be used once they have appropriate regulatory approval including NHS England’s Digital Technology Assessment Criteria (DTAC) approval.”

To find out more, visit the NICE website here to read the early value assessment.

In October, HTN reported on draft guidance from NICE recommending digital technologies to help lower back pain. The draft guidance recommended seven digital technologies to help people with non-specific lower back pain, including apps to support communication with a multi-disciplinary team; to provide guided exercise advice with video demonstrations; ‘nudge functions’ to remind people to complete their exercises or fill in questionnaires on their progress; and mindfulness support.