Digital therapeutics world first for Big Health in Scotland

UK-based Big Health has passed a digital health milestone after Scotland became the first country to make anxiety and insomnia digital therapeutics available on a national basis.

NHS Scotland will offer the digital health firm’s Sleepio and Daylight, and the cognitive behavioural therapy they provide, to all adults via their GP or online self-referral greatly expanding their previous availability.

Scotland’s minister for mental wellbeing and social care Kevin Stewart said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has only affirmed what we knew from the beginning – digital mental health is critical to help scale much-needed services and provide additional choice for people to manage their mental health.

“After assessing the effectiveness of Daylight and Sleepio, we are pleased to launch these treatments nationwide, providing clinically validated solutions for those who need it most.”

The two digital therapeutics have had partial availability in Scotland as first-line treatments for anxiety and insomnia in five of its 14 NHS Health Boards since October 2020. The new arrangement gives them full national coverage.

“Digital technologies have massive potential to help people manage and support their mental health in a way that feels right for them. We are working with NHS Scotland to combine traditional in-person services with technology-enabled solutions, allowing us to reach people with the right treatment at the right time,” Stewart explained.

According to Big Health, nearly 70% of its users in Scotland saw an improvement in their anxiety symptoms and gained an average of seven additional hours of sleep per week.

Dr Charlotte Lee, Big Health’s UK director, said: “As demand for mental health services continues to rise, innovative countries like Scotland have focused on expanding access to care through digital approaches.

“By increasing the options for evidenced-based mental health help at the point of need, Scotland is the only country to truly exploit the potential for digital therapeutics. We are proud to expand our service in Scotland to support the Scottish Government’s world-leading mental health strategy.”

The move comes a month after a study showed that people with anxiety or depression who used a digital therapeutic for insomnia alongside psychological therapy had better improvement in their mental health than those receiving therapy on its own.

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