Newly-elected Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen has said a company offering innovative online mental health therapy is helping to bolster the region’s reputation as a hotbed of technology firms.
At a visit to the offices of Ieso Digital Health today (Weds), the South Cambridgeshire MP praised the company’s vision to expand access to mental health therapies through technology.
The Conservative MP was given a demonstration of Ieso’s online talking therapy service. This showed the efficiency of online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and how the service can open up access to quality mental health care for patients, whilst also offering a cost-effective alternative to face-to-face therapy for the NHS.
Ms Allen said she was impressed to learn how the model is already being used to improve access to mental health services in the 20 NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) areas where Ieso is currently commissioned.
Ieso Digital Health, based in Swavesey, began as PsychologyOnline in 2000 and has grown significantly since.
Where commissioned, patients can be referred for treatment by their GP, or in many areas can self-refer. Once online, patients communicate with qualified British Association of Behavioural Cognitive Psychotherapists (BABCP) through written conversation in real-time.
Ieso currently treats around 500 patients a month, with the majority of patients only waiting a few days to be allocated a therapist, rather than weeks or months, which can be the case for traditional IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) services.
Patients also recover faster using CBT online, with recent Ieso data showing they need 50% fewer sessions to recover than for other talking therapies nationally.
Ms Allen, who is a local Cambridgeshire resident, worked in business for more than 18 years prior to becoming an MP, and is keen to encourage innovative start-ups like Ieso Digital Health.
For the past six years she has been managing director of her family’s business, RS Bike Paint, which her parents set up in 1978. In that time Heidi has seen the business grow from a local organisation into one that exports its products around the world. Ms Allen wants to use this experience to help ambitious Cambridge firms to expand globally.
Ms Allen said: “Making science, manufacturing and business fashionable again is one of my big passions. I believe it is the beating heart of our economy.
“Ieso Digital Health is a prime-example of the type of innovation coming out of Cambridge and its wider region. Its clinical evidence shows it can not only ease the burden on the NHS by providing a cost-effective solution to mental health care, but also, through an innovative use of technology, can provide more widespread access to treatment for those patients who find it difficult to access traditional services.
“Offering the same level of support to mental health as physical health is extremely important and every tool available needs to be used to help those suffering. Mental health is a huge issue and we need to work together and creatively to tackle it.”
South Cambridgeshire Councillor and cabinet member for economic development, Nick Wright, also showed his support for the growing business by meeting with the Ieso team.
Cllr Wright said: “It’s very exciting to have Ieso Digital Health based in Cambridgeshire – they are an innovative company with a national and international impact. Through their continued success the company is expanding, which will not only provide many highly skilled employment opportunities to the residents of Cambridgeshire, but also continue to widen patient access to mental health services both locally, nationally and internationally.”
Ieso Digital Health CEO, Barnaby Perks, said: “The support of local political leaders is crucial to the growth of businesses like Ieso. Cambridgeshire’s reputation as the UK’s leading technology cluster is sustained by being at the forefront of developments in science and technology. Ieso has combined both to benefit thousands of patients while developing the potential to make dramatic productivity gains for the NHS.”
Ieso Digital Health offers real therapy online. Our unique service allows patients to interact with British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP)-accredited, professional mental health therapists via live text-based communication over the Internet.
Our aim is to ensure people with mental health issues receive care as quickly as those with physical conditions. We can help people overcome depression, anxiety disorders and a wide of range of other mental and physical health problems.
Ieso Digital Health was formerly known as PsychologyOnline. The new name comes from the Greek goddess of recuperation from illness.