The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is to publish the first results from a new programme assessing how effective digital therapies are in treating anxiety and depression.
Speaking at the Health and Care Innovation Expo 2017, members of the team said they hope to publish two briefings on specific digital solutions late next month.
NICE is working with NHS England on the assessment programme, which was announced in June.
The bodies plan to review 14 digitally enabled means of treating anxiety and depression over the next three years.
The aim is to determine how effective they are, and so indicate whether they might be considered for wider use across Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services.
Under the new assessment programme, NICE will review the content, digital standards, effectiveness and cost impact of the solutions.
An expert panel will consider this briefing, and decide whether the service should move to the programme’s evaluation in practice in phase.
That would involve testing the technology in up to five different IAPT services across the country.
Should the panel judge the solution shows promise but is in need of further development, the Expo speakers suggested some funding may be available from NHS England to support this.
The IAPT programme was created in 2008, with the aim of ensuring more people with anxiety and depression received access to therapy. By 2020/21, the aim is for at least 1.5 million adults to access services under the programme.
It has been argued that blended therapy – in which some content is delivered digitally, but users still have regular contact with a qualified therapist – could present a means of expanding access to services.
But digital solutions have not previously been widely assessed for use within the NHS, and the speakers at Expo said their research suggests existing take up is mixed. Of 31 IAPT services they reviewed, 11 said they did not currently use digital means to deliver services.
In January, Digital Health reported on the announcement of £67.7 million of government funding for digital mental health services. It was said that £3 million of this would be spent on piloting digitally-assisted cognitive behavioural therapy in IAPT.