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UK mental health company ieso raises about 6.09 billion yen with texts among patient therapists accumulated for 10 years | Today Nation News

TechnologyUK mental health company ieso raises about 6.09 billion...

UK-based digital therapy company ieso announced a $ 53 million Series B round on November 23, US time. This round is the funding the company needs to move in a whole new direction, enabling more intuitive autonomous text therapy.

This means that thousands of hours of real-world therapy-trained AI can provide personalized sessions in chat.

ieso has been providing text-only therapy services (one of which is handled by a human therapist) through the UK’s National Health Insurance service for about 10 years. The company’s CEO, Nigel Pitchford, has provided text-based therapy to about 80,000 patients so far, but 6,000 are actively receiving therapy. I told TechCrunch. The total therapy time so far is said to be 460,000 hours.

“We plan to have 400 hours of treatment through our network tonight,” Pitchford said.

The funding was led by Morningside and participated by the Sony Innovation Fund. Existing investors IP Group, Molten Ventures and Ananda Impact Ventures are also participating.

ieso ultimately aims to evolve from a human-based therapist system to a scaled-up, autonomous system. The idea of ​​AI-based chat therapy isn’t anything special in this area (and we’ve covered other companies pursuing it), but the data behind eso’s approach is secret to the company. I think it’s a source.

ieso’s “overwhelming strength” is what Pitchford calls the “transcript of care”, a decade of real-life text-based conversations between patients and therapists. This dataset is bundled with real-time data on the patient’s clinical outcomes, which the company collects along with their chat content.

“Ieso has built some of the best data assets in the field with its text therapy dataset,” said Stephen Bruso, Morningside’s investment partner. The dataset states that it is one of the most attractive aspects of ieso for him as an investor and is “unprecedented”.

This dataset is used to track how (or not) a therapeutic conversation or technique is linked to or not linked to patient improvement. And there is evidence that the company was able to use that data to gain insights. For example, in 2019, the company published a paper analyzing 90,000 hours of therapy in the JAMA Psychiatry journal. In this paper, we found that aspects of therapy such as “planning for the future” and specific cognitive-behavioral therapy methods can improve patients.

“The data show that 28 minutes of an hour of therapy have conversations and exercises that’directly affect’the patient’s outcome,” said Andy Blackwell, Group Chief Science and Strategy Officer at the company. It was suggested that it was included. “

And, perhaps counter-intuitively, the paper found that therapeutic empathy had a negative impact on patient outcomes. However, other studies have also said that patients can get better results when they feel that the therapist understands them. Blackwell interpreted this finding of empathy as evidence that empathy should be used in conjunction with other therapeutic techniques.

Ultimately, Pitchford sees this dataset and the analysis as done in the JAMA paper as a roadmap for how AI-based therapists are trained and personalized.

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“That is, we receive human psychotherapy, which is a major problem all over the world, by studying what the best therapists are doing on a very large scale and reconstructing it. We can deliver treatment to those who can’t, “Pitchford said.

Even with such datasets, ieso seems to be forced to work in increasingly crowded areas. Funding for mental health start-ups is expected to exceed $ 3 billion in 2021, according to a third-quarter Silicon Valley Bank trend report. .. This means that many people are now paying attention to issues related to traditional therapy.

Bruso sees ieso as one of the few mental health companies that can at least use his dataset to show his actual health.

“We are between ieso’s digital products built on real-world data and the company’s ability to try these products on an existing user base and get performance data from day one. We believe there is a unique synergistic effect. Ultimately, products that can show measurable impacts on both personal health and social outcomes will be able to survive in this area. ” Says.

Blackwell recognizes how crowded the field is, and in fact thinks this is a problem for consumers. ieso leaders see these apps often designed for patients undergoing self-help efforts, mindfulness, or a mild mental health diagnosis.

While ieso can also treat people with mild mental health distress, the company is also focusing on moderate to severe diagnosis. In his words, it’s more than just a “wellness solution,” it’s also available for groups that need more focused care.

From this point of view, it is necessary to strengthen safety measures against self-harm. According to Blackwell, the company’s human-based therapy model incorporates a risk escalation protocol that has been refined over a decade as one of the UK’s largest mental health providers. In the future, we plan to incorporate those programs into autonomous therapy products.

So far, he hasn’t envisioned a more difficult regulatory path. That’s because I’m thinking of dealing with a higher level of mental health diagnosis.

“The good thing is that there are precedents and prerequisites available to bring to market, but the important thing is to create an empirically safe and effective product,” he said.

Blackwell argues that the company has already collected so much data that it can gain insights into efficacy and safety “many times faster” than in routine clinical trials.

ieso plans to use this round to build an AI-based therapy department and increase its popularity in the United States. The team is expected to expand to about 200 people by next year, aiming to bring it to market in the next two years.

Image Credits: Feodora Chiosea / Getty Images

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(Sentence: Emma Betuel, Translation: Akihito Mizukoshi)

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