UKA correspondentThursday 22 June 2017

NICE to assess digital therapies for depression

Institute to examine potential of products in advance of real life testing in selected services

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is to start assessing new digital therapies to treat people with anxiety and depression.

Finger on digital iconsIt has been asked to assess relevant digital applications and computer programmes as part of NHS England’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme.

Developers of therapy applications are being invited to submit their product to NICE to see if it meets the criteria for the new programme.

An eligible product will be assessed by NICE for its content, effectiveness at treating anxiety and depression, cost and whether it complies with technical NHS standards.

NICE will then produce an IAPT assessment briefing (IAB) on the product which will be looked at by an expert panel, made up of mental health clinicians, statisticians, an economist and a patient representative.

They will look at NICE’s briefing and make a decision on whether the product can be recommended for real life testing in selected IAPT services, where further evidence can be collected.

Two-year review

Over the next two years, NICE’s expert panel will review data from this evaluation in practice and decide if the digital therapy should be adopted for use across the whole of NHS England’s IAPT service.

Dr Paul Chrisp, programme director of the medical and technologies programme at NICE, said: “Digital interventions, along with the more traditional face-to-face therapy, can offer people with mild to moderate anxiety and depression a flexible, but guided way of helping them get better.

“The aim of this programme is to give more people access to digital therapies that have been assessed and shown to be as cost effective as face-to-face therapy. Digital therapies will not be used on their own, and patients should be reassured that they will still see therapists in person.”

Image from NICE