ChatHealth is implemented in 50 NHS organisations across the UK and available to 2 million young people and the parents/carers of 1.5 million children.
It uses technology that they are familiar with to enable them to securely contact a healthcare professional, supporting timely, confidential access to help. Messages are received in a central inbox, which can be accessed by the healthcare team. Clinicians respond through a web-based application to send a message back to the individual’s phone.
ChatHealth is co-designed by clinicians and service users. Its messaging helplines make holistic help universally accessible, simply by promoting a single centrally staffed service throughout an area. Service users do not need to wait for a clinician to visit and able to access care whilst face-to- face contact is not possible due to the current pandemic. The service is completely anonymous, meaning it encourages services users to confidently reach out around sensitive issues like mental health.
The computer-based risk management system ensures no message received goes un-answered and the service is fully auditable and reportable, overcoming a previous implementation barrier to messenger-based platforms. ChatHealth supports greater efficiencies by enabling individual nurses to provide support services easily and to more people by using this digital solution.
In response to COVID-19, incoming messages to ChatHealth nationally increased by 50% between Feb 2020 and April 2020.
- 50% increase in contacts from young people regarding anxiety and low mood.
- 30% increase in infant feeding enquiries from parents/carers.
- 60% increase in enquiries about perinatal mental health support for new/expectant mums.
- Services reported a wider service reach.
Using digital technology within healthcare can sometimes feel scary for professionals, potentially pushing them out of their comfort zone. However, when implemented in a safe way like ChatHealth, it’s proven that healthcare professionals engage really well and see the benefits for service users.