Big Health, NHS Scotland ink deal to provide access to digital therapeutics for insomnia, anxiety

Scotland is making a cognitive behavioral therapy app for anxiety and insomnia available to all adults in the country, marking a major validation of digital therapeutics to treat behavioral health conditions.

Scotland’s National Health Service (NHS) will offer national access to products from digital therapeutic maker Big Health at no cost to the user.

About 5 million people will be eligible for access to Sleepio, the company’s app to treat insomnia with cognitive behavioral therapy, and Daylight, which is focused on combating worry and anxiety.

The partnership could provide a road map for future deals with digital therapeutics companies.

“Digital technologies have massive potential to help people manage and support their mental health in a way that feels right for them. We are working with NHS Scotland to combine traditional in-person services with technology-enabled solutions, allowing us to reach people with the right treatment at the right time,” said Kevin Stewart, Scotland’s mental well-being and social care minister, in a statement.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has only affirmed what we knew from the beginning—digital mental health is critical to help scale much-needed services and provide additional choice for people to manage their mental health. After assessing the effectiveness of Daylight and Sleepio, we are pleased to launch these treatments nationwide, providing clinically validated solutions for those who need it most,” Stewart said.

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People across all 14 NHS Scotland health board areas will have 24/7 instant access to Big Health’s digital therapeutics, effectively providing non-drug alternatives for sleep and mental health.

The deal expands on a previous partnership announced last year when the Scottish government made the Daylight and Sleepio apps available across five NHS health board areas. To date, nearly 70% of Big Health users in Scotland experienced an improvement in their anxiety symptoms and gained an average of seven additional hours of sleep per week, according to the company.

“As demand for mental health services continues to rise, innovative countries like Scotland have focused on expanding access to care through digital approaches,” said Dr. Charlotte Lee, Big Health’s U.K. director, in a statement. “By increasing the options for evidenced-based mental health help at the point of need, Scotland is the only country to truly exploit the potential for digital therapeutics. We are proud to expand our service in Scotland to support the Scottish Government’s world-leading mental health strategy.”

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Based in London and San Francisco, Big Health was co-founded by Professor Colin Espie, a Scotsman, clinical psychologist and professor of sleep medicine at the University of Oxford. Gold-standard randomized controlled trials have shown that 71% of patients who used Daylight achieved remission from anxiety, and 76% of patients who used Sleepio achieved clinically significant sleep improvements, according to the company.

Big Health’s digital therapeutics are used by health systems like the NHS and large multinational employers. Last year, the company raised $39 million in series B financing led by Gilde Healthcare and Morningside Ventures as well as Samsung NEXT and existing investors Kaiser Permanente Ventures and Octopus Ventures. The company has raised $54 million since the company was founded in 2010.

Healthcare giant CVS Caremark included Big Health’s Daylight and Sleepio apps as part of its Point Solutions Management platform, which aims to make it easier for plan sponsors to manage and contract with digital health tools. 

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