SME of the Week: Limbic

Sebastiaan de Vries, Limbic’s Co-Founder and CTO, shares an update on Limbic’s success so far and how AI can assist mental health clinicians.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, which seems very fitting as the Co-founder of a healthtech company whose mission is to make world-class mental healthcare accessible to everyone. 

It’s likely you’re already aware of the stats. Mental illness is the leading cause of disability in the UK and globally, one in four adults experience a mental health problem each year, according to the WHO. This issue has been exacerbated by Covid; we know that the pandemic had many mental health consequences, from stress, anxiety, grief, loneliness, social and health anxiety and trauma. But, sadly, many patients delayed seeking help. Some thought services were closed. Others were reluctant to put additional pressure on healthcare workers. Either way, the bottom line is that mental health services are now playing catch up. 

The NHS staffing crisis is currently at its worst – one in six mental health nursing posts are vacant and 110,000 NHS posts are unfilled, the highest number on record. Low pay, the stress and trauma of the Covid-19 pandemic and a job that requires constant pressure has caused burnout amongst the NHS and led many staff members to quit. 

We created Limbic because we believe technology can step in and bridge the gaps. AI in particular has an opportunity to reduce the administrative burden on clinicians, support clinical-decision making and provide greater access to support for patients. The latter is particularly pertinent, given that the NHS Long Term Plan has increased its mental health accessibility targets and given that nationally, services are not on the trajectory needed to fulfil this target. 

Last year alone, our chatbot – which uses conversational AI to support self-referrals – saved the NHS nearly 10,000 clinical and administrative hours. In addition to this, our software was able to flag nearly 8000 patients to services as potentially high-risk, allowing the services to prioritise these patients accordingly. 

Such features are able to support clinicians with diagnosis, assessments and prioritising high-risk patients, which has the potential to drastically impact patient outcomes. And it’s been humbling to see this recognised by NHS England, who mentioned Limbic Access in their High Impact Digital Tools for the delivery of IAPT services document. 

And that’s just the beginning. Over the next 12 months, we’re expanding our team, product and presence to support clinicians with other points in the care pathway, which will free up even more time for overstretched services and help us deliver our social impact goal to help 250,000 adults access mental health support. We have our work cut out for us. But we truly believe that AI is the future of healthcare and that we’ll be able to tackle this crisis together. 

For more information: Contact Limbic

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

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