A number of NHS trusts are employing a digital tool called “Buddy” to support the delivery of therapy services to their patients.
Organisations including South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust and 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, are using the text messaging system to allow patients to keep a daily diary of their mood.
Buddy, which was created by Sidekick Studios, uses SMS to enable patients to keep a record of how they are feeling and what they are doing.
This information is uploaded once a week, allowing therapists to analyse a patient’s behaviour and mood between clinical appointments.
Talking to eHealth Insider, James Seward, managing director for Buddy, said: “At the heart of the system is a desire to keep it as simple as possible for the service users. Clinicians and patients both need support and Buddy helps increase collaboration between the two.
“We want to empower service users and make the service more efficient and effective for them, without assuming that everyone has a smartphone. That is why the system is focused on simple text messaging.”
The system was originally developed in a partnership with South London and Maudsley and was supported by the NHS London Regional Innovation Fund and the National Endowment Society, Technology and the Arts (Nesta).
Buddy asks users to rate their day on a scale of one to five and replaces traditional paper based mood diaries. It also offers simple online tools that allow the service user to analyse patterns in their life and empower them to change their behaviours.
The system aims to improve session planning as it provides clinicians with a greater insight into the behaviour of their patients who can also determine what they want to discuss with the therapist at the next appointment via the online notes tool.
Jerome Carson, consultant clinical psychologist at South London and Maudsley, said: “It provides a lot more objective information in real time and does not rely on memory, which can easily be affected by mood.”
Buddy also sends out appointment reminders to users and this has helped reduce ‘did not attend rates’.
Seward told EHI that the company is exploring options of how Buddy can help in other areas, such as obesity. A new version of the system is set to be launched by the end of May.
Buddy is supported by Nexters, which is the big society network’s new programme to help the UK’s best social entrepreneurs.