How to make your IAPT service more digitally accessible and innovative

Standard IAPT compared with Digitally enabled IAPT

This article acts as an extension of my recent publication and discusses how IAPT managers can make their services more digitally accessible and innovative by implementing low key and advanced changes.

Low key changes

Ensure your service information is up to date on NHS Choices

Service users use NHS Choices to identify local services in their area.  Assign someone to ensure all the information held about your service(s) on NHS Choices is present and up to date.  This in turn will help service users locate you.

Make sure your service website is the best it can be and if you don’t have one consider it.

Service users will be referred to your site either through search engines or NHS Choices.  The impression your website gives will be a partial judgement on how well they believe you as a service operate.  For this reason, it is important to ensure that you have a clean tidy website with at least the following information:

  • A description of the service and who it’s for.
  • Details of the treatments offered.
  • Ways to contact the service(s).

You could also go the extra mile and offer the following to give service users the freedom to explore self-help materials:

  • Details and links to online self-help resources.
  • Details and links to online therapies.

Advanced changes

Use a digital patient record system

A digital patient record system will help you to effectively and efficiently manage your patients through stepped care and reduce the administration work involved.

Enable online contact / referral

Not every service user will be willing to go to their GP or call a number to get help.  An online referral process can be one way to get around barriers such as these.  Implementing a basic secure online web form that is connected to an NHS mail account can offer service users an alternative to contacting you via verbal means.  Alternatively, some of the available digital patient record systems (see above) provide modules that enable online referral.

Offer an online mental health service(s)

Online mental health services enable you to offer instant access to therapy and help increase your service(s) capacity and lower waiting times.  Online services vary in delivery method and will not suit everyone but can particularly beneficial to those wanting help but not via face to face therapy.

Here is the list of online mental health therapies currently recommended on NHS Choices:

Service Name Demographic Problems
Big White Wall Anyone aged 16 or over. Common mental health problems.
FearFighter Anyone aged 16 or over. Panic and Phobias.
Ieso Anyone aged 18 or over. Common mental health problems.
Kooth Those aged 11 to 19 (25 in some areas). Common mental health problems.
SilverCloud Anyone aged 16 or over. Common mental health problems.
Sleepio Adults Sleep issues.

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