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NHS looks to improve digital mental health support

NHS England plans for programme to use digital technologies and data to improve mental health treatment and help patients access services

NHS England’s digital mental health team is looking for a supplier to help it explore how digital health technologies can be used to improve patient pathways and mental health services.

The digital mental health team is embarking on a four-month project to run several “investigatory pieces of work” looking at how using data sharing and digital technologies at a local level can be used to close the “historic treatment gap in mental health provision in England”, according to the tender document.

“This work is in line with the ambitions in the NHS Long-Term Plan (LTP) to support the development of digitally enabled pathways of care that use a range of digital tools, and supports the integration agenda for mental health providers to be connected with each other and the wider system partners,” it added.

The NHS is looking for a supplier to help during the discovery phase of the project. It wants an organisation with experience in leading strategic, user-centred design work and which has a proven track record and “robust methodology for conducting user research with vulnerable people and handling sensitive information”.

The discovery work has several strands, including data sharing, working on understanding how data flows between care settings organisations and locations, “as well as between professionals and citizens, and identifying tangible improvements in the collection, sharing and use of this information”.

This will build on previous work on mapping data sharing in mental health and aims to inform the design and delivery of new patient pathways.

“The other focus for the work will be on deepening our understanding of how digital health technologies (DHTs) can improve care delivery at the local level,” the tender document said.

“This understanding will inform the intention of local support for the adoption, scaling and optimisation of DHTs that support our LTP ambitions around access, improved outcomes, care pathway improvement and supporting the workforce.”

Read more about mental health and technology

  • Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to support people suffering mental health issues – and digital technology can help.
  • Digital portal enables young people to self-refer to local mental health services, giving them easier access to support and reducing waiting times.
  • Digital unit of the NHS has started a discovery process on mental health services focused on children and young people.

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