London, UK – According to WHO, depression is the number one cause of disability worldwide.1 As the coronavirus pandemic exacerbates, telehealth services to treat mental health conditions remotely, including Flow Neuroscience, may become widespread, as part of social distancing efforts.
“We’re seeing a massive upsurge in demand for Flow during the pandemic. Covid-19 has put an even further pressure on us to deliver a treatment to the many in need. As a result, we have increased our stock by over 800%.” says Daniel Mansson, CEO and co-founder of Flow Neuroscience. The Flow brain stimulation headset allows users to manage their depression at home – and is the first, and only, telehealth treatment of its type to be medically approved in the UK and EU.
Experts predict that adopting telehealth for all health care provision could save NHS England £7.5 billion annually.2 UK healthcare expenditure in 2017 was £197.4 billion, or 9.6% of GDP, according to the Office for National Statistics.3 This will rise sharply as the pandemic forces the NHS to allocate more resources on life support, rather than mental health. And digital health venture funding hit a record £2.5 billion invested during the first quarter of 2020, more than 1.5 times than any previous year.4
The pandemic has prompted a surge in demand for telehealth worldwide. In China, millions used health platforms such as those offered by Alibaba. In the mental health sector, telehealth providers include My Online Therapy and Flow Neuroscience.
Telehealth is uniquely positioned to reshape mental health care provision. As the UK continues its lockdown measures to mitigate the impact of coronavirus, and as the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continues to rise, the pandemic may serve as a tipping point for a surge in telehealth in the NHS.
The Flow headset uses tDCS, a type of brain stimulation that is now listed as a treatment for depression on the NHS website. Clinical studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine and the British Journal of Psychiatry showed that the type of tDCS brain stimulation used in the Flow headset had a similar impact to antidepressants with fewer and less-severe side effects.5,6,7 More information about the Flow headset can be found here. While using the headset, users engage with a therapy app which improves areas of life impacted by depression, including nutrition, sleep and exercise. The Flow therapy app is free to download on iOS and Android.
“This feels like a moment for telehealth that is uniquely positioned to deliver mental health care both remotely and at scale”, says Daniel Mansson. “Empowering individuals to self-manage their mental health at home with evidenced-based, drug-free, cost-effective alternatives match the current evolving needs of the NHS during the pandemic, and beyond.”
The Flow chatbot therapist app requires iOS 11.0 (or later) or Android. Compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, as well as Android devices.
Medical device company Flow has developed the first, and only, medically approved home brain stimulation treatment for depression. The headset and accompanying therapy app empowers and motivates individuals to take control, self-manage and reduce the risk of depression with effective, non-pharmacological, digital alternatives. Flow was founded by clinical psychologist Daniel Mansson and neuroscientist Erik Rehn, and consists of prominent researchers in the field of psychiatry, clinical psychology, brain stimulation, neuroscience and machine learning. The company was founded in 2016 and is based in Sweden.
1. WHO Depression key facts
2. The impact of telehealth and telepharmacy technology on public health service pressure and patient outcomes
3. Office for National Statistics: Healthcare expenditure, UK Health Accounts: 2017
4. Rock Health: Digital Sector Investment Q1 2020
5. Brunoni, A. R., Moffa, A. H., Sampaio-Junior, B., Borrione, L., Moreno, M. L., Fernandes, R. A., Benseñor, I. M. (2017). Trial of Electrical Direct-Current Therapy versus Escitalopram for Depression. New England Journal of Medicine (26), 2523–2533.
6. Brunoni, A. R., Moffa, A. H., Fregni, F., Palm, U., Padberg, F., Blumberger, D. M., … Loo, C. K. (2016). Transcranial direct current stimulation for acute major depressive episodes: meta-analysis of individual patient data. The British Journal of Psychiatry : The Journal of Mental Science, 208(6), 522–531.
7. Bikson et al., Safety of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation: Evidence Based Update 2016. Brain Stimulation, 9(2016), 641–661.