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Ieso plots mental healthcare by AI with launch of Eight Billion Minds

Ieso Digital Health is aiming to build the next generation of mental healthcare by creating autonomous artificial intelligence-powered tools for patients.

The Cambridge company has launched Eight Billion Minds, a new digital therapeutics program, to address the global shortages of therapists.

Dr Nigel Pitchford, CEO of Ieso Digital Health (18149010)
Dr Nigel Pitchford, CEO of Ieso Digital Health (18149010)

Using deep learning models and natural language processing, the program is analysing real-world data from more than 200,000 therapy hours.

The data comes from Ieso’s ThinkWell care platform, through which therapists conduct one-to-one cognitive behavioural therapy online.

Quantifying and analysing associations between interventions and outcome, Eight Billion Minds is gaining an understanding of therapy-related language and the most effective aspects of psychotherapy.

This will be used to create digital therapeutics tools to make mental health treatment accessible for all.

Dr Andy Blackwell, group chief science and strategy officer for Ieso, based in the Jeffreys Building in Cowley Road, said: “Depression and anxiety impact millions of people from all walks of life, everywhere. Emboldened by significant recent advances in science and engineering, we are launching Eight Billion Minds to catalyse development of a radical new generation of therapeutic solutions for mental health.

“Using deep learning and our unique data asset we have already made great advances in understanding what works in therapy, right down to individual words.

“Eight Billion Minds is using the latest technology to encapsulate this in a form that is scalable for distribution globally and removes barriers that are associated with mental healthcare today. We are building the next generation of mental healthcare.”

The programme will be used to improve engagement with, and the effectiveness of, traditional therapy.

Ieso says Eight Billion Minds already understands which components of therapy are clinically most effective.

Tools have been built to help therapists focus on elements proven by Ieso to have the most impact on a patient’s chances of recovery.

Ieso says the need for Eight Billion Minds is clear.

Depression is now the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting 300 million people, and almost two-thirds of work days lost in the US are reported to be caused by mental illness.

According to one study, inaction on mental illness will cost the global economy $16trillion in the 20-year period ending in 2030.

But traditional therapy cannot meet the demand. Half of all countries have four or fewer psychiatrists per 100,000 people. In low-income countries, the ratio is 0.1 to every 100,000.

Dr Blackwell said: “With the widespread adoption of consumer technology and substantial advances in mental health science we now have an unprecedented opportunity to take the fight to mental illness globally.

“We have demonstrated that taking a data-driven approach to mental healthcare results in better outcomes for patients.

“Empowered by clinical science and deep learning, we will now use these same data to discover and develop a radical new generation of therapeutic solutions for mental health conditions. This is the role of Eight Billion Minds.”

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