Future Care Capital (FCC) is developing a digital mental health commissioning tool. Working collaboratively will aid decision-making, enabling and accelerating the adoption and implementation of solutions. Here we present preliminary results from FCC’s start-up survey for companies in the digital mental healthcare sector. This survey was issued to companies included in our Mental Health Tech Landscape Review, as well as newly founded companies in the United Kingdom. A total of 10 responses have been received so far, with our team continuing to reach out to mental health tech companies. To respond to the survey, click here.
50% of the companies surveyed so far aim to improve access to effective therapies by enabling users to find certified psychologists, therapists, or healthcare practitioners. Other surveyed companies offer services to increase effectiveness and productivity of therapies online or strengthen mental health support systems. A minority of companies also offered preventative tools, for example by facilitating strong and supportive families, or by offering targeted interventions for high-risk conditions (e.g., music therapy for anxiety).
Most respondents have developed platforms or apps and incorporated innovative use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) technologies such as conversational chatbots. The surveyed tech developers are also using edge computing to bring computation and data storage closer to the user devices and increase performance, as well as AI clustering to offer personalised solutions to their users.
Our survey also looks at the sources of funding, with most respondents so far relying on VC funding, government grants and business angels. Among the respondents were Togetherall, a company that raised $10M (£8.6M) in series A funding in 2020; and Wysa, who recently went through a series B funding round, with funds totalling $29.4M (£25.3M). Such companies currently offer services for hundreds to millions of customers, but we have also surveyed companies that are currently prototyping online care pathways and trialling their services with the NHS or private service providers.
To support commissioning decisions, our survey also looks at the evidence base for digital products. So far, three different streams of evidence have been outlined by our respondents: randomised controlled trials (RCTs), in-house research – where the products are usually evaluated by looking at engagement or tracking outcomes using single-case study designs, or existing evidence from clinical literature.
Crucially, our preliminary survey results also revealed potential barriers to the adoption and implementation of mental health digital technologies. When asked about the potential threats to the future of their companies, most of our respondents cited lack of access to finance – a problem commonly faced by British start-ups, as well as being outcompeted by rival start-ups. However, some offered insights about systemic processes which hinder the adoption of digital solutions, such as the lack of ability to rapidly scale across the NHS, resistance from clinicians, and lack of clear frameworks for the procurement of safe and effective digital products.
If you are developing tech solutions to tackle or prevent mental illness, please reach out and provide more insight about how your technology can improve the outcomes of service users or strengthen service delivery here.