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New app could help practices treat insomnia patients

by Valeria Fiore
3 October 2018

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GP practices will be able to signpost patients to digital treatment for insomnia, a digital health company has announced.
Patients in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire will get access to the Sleepio app from 10 October before it is rolled out to other areas in the South East.
The app, part of an Oxford University led 12-month studyon digital cognitive behavioural therapy, was found to improve the wellbeing, mental health and quality of life of 74% of the 1,711 persons who took part in the study.
Saving the NHS money
Patients currently usually receive medication to treat insomnia, which can have side effects on health. Big Health, the company behind the app, hopes that Sleepio can reduce that risk.
The digital health company is predicting that the app could help the NHS save on the £72m a year it currently spends on prescriptions for insomnia.
Sleepio is one of the first digital health applications to be reviewed by NICE.
It was co-designed by Big Health, commissioners and academics working for Oxford Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) and funded through a £1m award from government arms-length body Innovate UK.
Dr Michael Mulholland, Buckinghamshire GP and clinical lead for the initial Oxford AHSN roll out said: ‘In my role as a GP I see the impact of insomnia on people’s’ lives every day.
‘Sleepio offers a real opportunity to transform lives for the better and to reduce reliance on sleeping tablets. This collaboration will explore the potential of digital innovations to improve people’s lives.’
The announcement of Sleepio’s initial rollout comes a month after health and social care secretary Matt Hancock nominated the pilot areas that will be testing the new NHS app.
Raising awareness
All ‘data partner’ practices – those who agreed to collaborate with the project and promote the Sleepio app – will receive training on ‘how Sleepio works, who it will be appropriate for, how patients can access Sleepio, and how clinicians can record referrals’, a Big Health spokesperson told Management in Practice.
Practices will be asked to raise awareness of the app to patients with poor sleep, through resources such as posters or leaflets, the spokesperson added.
They said: ‘Receptionists’ involvement is likely to vary from practice to practice. We would expect most to be able to signpost patients to the relevant resources to sign up to Sleepio, as well as having leaflets to hand or on display. At some locations, information about Sleepio will also be screened on monitors in the waiting areas.’