AI can help Transform Mental Health Services – In the light of Mental Health Week (May 15th – May 21st 2023) Jonathan Sharp, CEO, Britannic discuss how AI can help transform access to the services available.
The UK is grappling with a mental health crisis with 8 million people waiting to be seen or not deemed sick enough to be seen. The NHS is overwhelmed with long waiting list, and many private mental health clinicians also have waiting lists of up to six months!
The government has committed to investing £2.3 billion a year by March 2024 in mental health services support an additional 2 million people, and are modernising the Mental Health Act to bring it up to date with 21st century. One of the critical areas of improvements is to modernise communications technologies of GPs, NHS Trusts, hospitals and private clinics to streamline services, reduce unnecessary admin burden and improve the patient and clinician experience.
They will be also be investing £240 million into practices across England to embrace the latest communications technologies, enabling GP practices to replace their old analogue phone systems with modern systems such as cloud solutions using IP or SIP telephony.
This is move is very timely as BT stop selling ISDN and PSTN telephony from September this year, and from 2025 will cease to support these systems.
This will provide the flexibility for GPs, hospitals, private clinics to use the latest technologies to streamline processes, reduce waiting times, operate a triage system and introduce the ‘care navigator’ system where by the receptionists ensure that the patients are directed to the most suitable healthcare professional whether that’s an appointment with the GP on the day if urgent, or in two weeks of not, or to a pharmacy or to NHS 111.
It will put an end to the mad rush for appointments at 8.00am on Monday whereby average surgeries receive over 100 calls in the first hour, and the patient is kept on hold and told there are no appointments!
IVRs can be added so patients get messages such as ‘there are no appointments today left, please call back or press 1 if urgent’ etc.
The use of AI and automated technology can help reduce the gap between demand for mental health services and provision particularly for ‘talking therapy’ by using it as a virtual AI chatbot counsellor based on CBT. Although it is no replacement for a human counsellor it could serve as ‘stop gap’ and 87% of people struggling with mental health are currently using apps to get help and 31% using them because they don’t want to wait for face to face support (FCC).
There are a few well known AI chatbot counsellors on the market today that share success in reducing low level anxiety and depression such as Woebot, Ellie and Tess that deliver highly personalised therapy based on CBT and can also interpret non-verbal signs such as facial expressions, posture or gestures. They are affordable, accessible from everywhere, easy to open to up, and clinicians can use it to complement their work such as getting the basic data, tracking the data on the chatbot and using it to plan next session or see patterns of mood and behaviours etc.
NHS Trusts are faced with an overwhelming number of referrals for mental health treatment and clinicians spend too much time on admin and less time treating the patients leading to a reduced level of service.
A chatbot can talk to the patients instantly in a friendly tone guiding them through the referral process step by step according to their personal needs, re-directing them to services if required and flagging up high risk patients who need to be prioritised immediately. The benefits are it is available 24/7, accessible at any time on any device. It also augments the time of the clinician because when they are due to see the patient, they already have the basic data they require.
They can be used to e-triage and assess what treatment is required acting as first point of contact for the patient. Digitalising processes making them easier to use and speeding up the process, reducing admin, enabling staff to focus on higher value tasks and improving the patient experience.
Britannic are award-winning specialists in business communications, systems integration, digital transformation and managed services, maximising the ICT investment of private and public organisations across the UK.
Britannic Technologies is a value-added reseller with a difference. We are a highly knowledgeable team of approachable, long-serving experts specialising in business communications, contact centre, unified communications, networking, automation and systems integration. We go the extra mile to create value, mitigate risk and manage change effectively, building strong relationships based on trust.
We collaborate with customers and class-leading partners to innovate and add value, achieving excellence in everything we do. Working in partnership with customers to understand their business goals, processes and culture, we develop change strategies and underpinning technology solutions, tailored to each client’s needs. As leaders in innovation, we are proud to bring disruptive technologies, such as artificial intelligence, web real time communications and business process automation to customers.
Britannic partners with industry-leading vendors such as Mitel, Five9, Avaya, 8×8, Bizvu, Calabrio, AudioCodes, Microsoft and Red Box. Trailfinders, North Herts District Council, Markerstudy Group, Advance Housing & Support and Queen Mary University of London are just a few of the customers that have transformed their business with Britannic.
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