23 January 2018

New online and mobile app for depression should be trialled on the NHS, says NICE

NICE says that online and mobile programme Deprexis could help adults with depression get faster access to care and it should be tested out in NHS services.

Adult using smartphone app

Around 200 people in England could benefit from free access to this digital therapy after NICE recommended that it is trialled in specialist services selected by NHS England.

Dr Paul Chrisp, programme director of the medical and technologies programme at NICE, said: “Deprexis is a digital therapy that could help speed up access to care and free up therapist time to treat more people. This new programme, funded by NHS England, has meant that we can now open up access to innovative therapies by recommending them for real-world evidence study. Our aim is to provide evidence-based advice so services can make informed decisions and people have more flexible options to treat anxiety and depression.”

Deprexis uses the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help people assess their own situation and find effective ways of coping. It can be used on any device that has internet access including smartphones, tablets and desktops.

NICE says Deprexis could be an effective alternative therapy for adults with mild to moderate depression. In advice published to NHS England, NICE is recommending that the therapy is trialled for up to two years in at least two of the specialist services that were set up to improve access to psychological therapies.

During the trial, people using Deprexis will be guided by a therapist. People can log into the programme at any time to complete modules of CBT, avoiding the need to attend therapist appointments in person. The therapist can see what part of the programme each person is using and review the work they have done. The therapist can also see how the person is feeling, and is alerted if someone’s symptoms deteriorate. The therapist and the person can also send messages securely through the programme to ask questions and seek support.

The cost of Deprexis in the UK is not yet agreed. The trial will be funded by NHS England.

NICE is assessing up to 14 digital therapies to help treat anxiety and depression as part of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme.

NICE has also published separate advice on OCD-NET, an online programme to manage obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). NICE’s experts concluded that the programme required further development before it would be suitable for a trial on the NHS. The advice means that the makers of OCD-NET can apply for funding from NHS England to improve the digital therapy.

This new programme, funded by NHS England, has meant that we can now open up access to innovative therapies by recommending them for real-world evidence study.

Dr Paul Chrisp, programme director of the medical and technologies programme, NICE