This Digital Health News industry roundup includes a digital mental health support partnership, the power of digital health intervention and a study into text messaging prompts.

Text message prompts boost engagement in healthy lifestyle programmes

A pilot study from NHS Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB) has revealed how powerful text messaging can be in increasing patient engagement in healthy lifestyles programmes.

The pilot found that text message prompts to patients increased the number of referrals to the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NDPP) by over 1,000%.

The study set out to explore whether the digital communications software managed at ICB-level is more effective than postal invites to engage patients in health programmes. It was supported by the ICB’s clinical technology partner, Meddbase.

According to the study, using patient identification tools and automated text message prompts led to a:

  • 1,000% + increase in NDPP referrals
  • 331% increase in the number of patients who attend at least one session of the NDPP
  • 181% increase in the number of patients attending sessions over a three-month period.

Meddbase software was used to enable the ICB’s engagement officer to quickly identify eligible patients, check them against criteria and also schedule text message prompts for the patient. At the same time all this information is captured into the electronic patient record.

Dr Tom Milligan, clinical lead for diabetes in Humber and North Yorkshire, said: “The software used for this pilot enabled the ICB to conduct advanced searches for the first time, so they could identify, invite and refer patients that would otherwise have been missed.

“The result was far greater uptake of the NDPP as well as significant time saved for clinical staff. Given the current capacity challenges within general practice and the cost to the NHS of lifestyle-related conditions like type 2 diabetes to the NHS, the findings here could have a huge impact.”

Kooth partners with GLUU for digital mental health support

Kooth has teamed up with GLUU to give schools, using an online tutoring and support platform, invaluable digital mental health support.

The collaboration means that education institutions can now purchase online learning resources and wellbeing support in one accessible and flexible package.

GLUU’s solution, askOla,, provides help with homework, writing feedback and study support on-demand.

It has collaborated with Kooth, a digital mental health and wellbeing platform, to ensure that students, teachers and support staff have access to safe, confidential and non-judgemental mental health support.

Kooth’s services are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week and includes for those aged over 10, and for those aged over 18.

As well as a library of peer and professionally-created content, Kooth also offers one-to-one text-based sessions with experienced counsellors and wellbeing practitioners. These are available without a referral and with no waiting lists.

The Kooth Work Flourish Mental Health Check also helps schools using the askOla platform to identify priority issues when it comes to the mental health and wellbeing of school staff. This benchmarking tool helps school to invest in the right initiatives and develop new policies, practices and programmes.

Christine Major, CEO at GLUU, said: “Partnering with Kooth was a logical choice as our values are closely aligned, as like us they believe that mental health support should be accessible to everyone.”

GPs now offering Wysa mental health app to patients

Wysa – the NHS-approved, AI-enabled mental health app – is now being offered to patients by GPs to help support mental health.

Patients who are displaying symptoms of mild to moderate depression and anxiety can now be offered the digital therapeutic as a first line of defence.

GPs being able to refer people to Wysa speeds up how quickly patients can access vital support.

Within the NHS patients can be referred to the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme, however treatment start can be slow, and many patients do not qualify due to a severity mismatch.

Dr Farhan Amin, a GP and digital pioneer within the NHS, said: “Patients need more support with their mental health outside of the surgery, especially with lengthy waiting times meaning access to more traditional therapies can be delayed.

“Offerings like Wysa provide 24/7 help to our patients and remove some of the admin burden and clinical time from surgery staff. Having a ‘digital pill’ that is evidence-based and clinically validated will allow us to help so many more people.”

Wysa is clinically safe to use and can offer high-quality care when it is needed.

Ross O’Brien, UK managing director at Wysa said: “The mental health crisis isn’t going away. Frontline staff are stretched and sometimes have no avenue to support people through. GPs need to give their patients something. And there will be funds to do so via a cash boost of investment for GP practices to expand their services as part of a new five-year contract from the NHS.”

Bupa UK Insurance launches new services for corporate customers

Bupa UK Insurance has introduced a package of new propositions for its UK corporate customers, under the label of inclusive health.

Created in response to customer demand, the new propositions cover a range of diverse health needs. They include:

  • Period Plan – a new pathway offering fast access to women’s health experts to support common conditions such as endometriosis and PCOS.
  • Menopause Care – offering menopause support by connecting health and wellbeing capabilities across Bupa.
  • Sexual Health – delivering a range of sexual health checks.
  • Neurodiversity offering assessment, diagnosis and treatment for a range of neurodiverse conditions, supporting both adults and children.

Period Plan, Menopause Care and Sexual Health are available on selected plans, with some services provided through Bupa Health Clinics. Neurodiversity is still in development.

The new propositions join Bupa’s existing range of inclusive health benefits, including family planning services and fast access to mental health support through its Family Mental Healthline.

Richard Norris, general manager of business and specialist products at Bupa UK Insurance, said: “Employers should be investing in workplace health and wellbeing solutions that meet the needs of their individual employees.

“We strongly believe that inclusive health and wellbeing is now a critical part of the business agenda and want to support employers in building these kinds of wellbeing strategies.”

Bupa’s Inclusive Health package is supported by the Bupa Academy for Health and Wellbeing. The academy offers business customers and intermediary partners free training and resources on topics including women’s health, neurodiversity and gender dysphoria.