Ask NHS helps patients find physio and mental health support

By Leila Hawkins
The Ask NHS app, powered by Sensely, uses AI to help patients access physio and mental health support during the pandemic...

An AI-powered virtual assistant deployed by the UK's National Health Service (NHS) to help patients find information about their symptoms is now helping them access physiotherapy and mental health support during the ongoing pandemic. 

The Ask NHS app, powered by technology from digital healthcare firm Sensely, launched in 2017. To date it has heped over 400,000 patients find information about their symptoms, as well as book flu vaccinations

In a pilot conducted by 18 NHS practices in south London, 50,000 app users were able to book directly into their local physiotherapy service without requiring a referral from their doctor. This has meant an increase in usage of physiotherapy resources, delivered without any additional burden on healthcare workers, and with a total saving of over 150 hours of clinicians’ time. 

In terms of mental health support, Sensely worked closely with the NHS' Healthy Minds programme (IAPT). As a result the app now enables patients to share their mental health concerns, driving them to online resources and automatically connecting them with local support services. 

Health Mind resources include online material, insomnia self-help tools, and one-on-one consultations, with more urgent cases triaged for support from clinicians. 

Adam Odessky, Sensely’s CEO, says that AI technology is ideal to help patients manage their health during the pandemic. “Sensely’s AI tools empower Ask NHS users to self-manage their healthcare during the COVID-19 crisis, while reducing the risk of infection and easing the strain on hard-working doctors and nurses” he says.  

“Now more than ever, we need to ensure that people can access the physiotherapy and mental health support they need — and the Ask NHS app is the easiest and quickest way for patients to take charge of their healthcare journey.” 

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