Dorset and Southampton NHS Trust to introduce Wysa chatbot

Dorset and Southampton are set to become the first areas in the country to benefit from a therapy chatbot provided by the NHS. Wysa will be integrated into Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust services from April.

This will give patients automatic access to the right Steps2Wellbeing mental health service, effectively becoming a ‘digital front door’ to both digital and therapist support.

While on the waiting list for an NHS therapist, Wysa will also give instant 24/7 access to interactive, AI-guided, mental health support. This will mean that patients can immediately start to manage their symptoms, preventing their mental health from deteriorating further, which can be a problem for patients awaiting therapy. 

Wysa will become the route for the delivery of NHS therapist care, giving continuity in care and encouraging higher patient engagement during therapy. In addition, patient access to Wysa’s chatbot and self-help tools will remain in place for a year after discharge to prevent relapse.

How it will work:

  1. Upon GP referral or self-referral through Dorset Healthcare’s Steps2Wellbeing website, Wysa will take people through a new e-triage experience, an interactive version of the in-depth questionnaires that must be completed in order to access NHS talking therapies.
  2. Wysa will provide instant support through an AI chatbot that guides patients through interactive self-care exercises. Wysa’s NHS-approved self-care library offers a wealth of evidence-based intervention exercises for stress, grief, insomnia, coping with pain, anger and self-esteem and more.
  3. Steps2Wellbeing will then contact patients through Wysa to arrange appointments and prescribe homework exercises from Wysa’s library, as well as track patient progress. 
  4. After discharge, patients will continue to have full access to Wysa’s chat bot and self-help library for ongoing support and to prevent the return of symptoms of mental health deterioration.
  5. Throughout the patient experience, Wysa will regularly check progress through ongoing triage questions, suggest interactive self-help exercises, manage clinical risk and highlight if the patient needs more immediate or emergency attention.

Ross O’Brien, Managing Director, Wysa UK Ltd says: “We know that Wysa has the potential to meet the mental health treatment challenges that the NHS faces and can support people across the country with access to mental health and wellbeing support at scale now. Our service is part of an AI Award RCT and is also being rolled out in NHS CAMHS and IAPT services nationally. Results from users from around the globe demonstrate the efficacy and impact of an AI based mental health intervention. We are delighted to be part of DigitalHealth.London Accelerator and look forward to working with experts and peers as we scale Wysa to deliver truly personalised care for all.’’

Wysa is part of the sixth cohort of the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme.

The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator is a collaborative programme funded by London’s three Academic Health Science Networks – UCL Partners, Imperial College Health Partners, and the Health Innovation Network, MedCity, CW+ and receives match funding from the European Regional Development Fund.