Digital mental health company SilverCloud Health is partnering with Microsoft to enhance its product with artificial intelligence (AI).

The company has been working with Microsoft Labs for the last 18 months, exploring how machine learning and AI can be used to enhance the delivery of digital cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and improve patient outcomes on SliverCloud’s platform.

SilverCloud provides digital behavioural healthcare through more than 30 eight-week courses designed to help manage stress, anxiety and depression through CBT. The programmes allow patients semi-regular contact with a trained human clinician as they complete the courses to review their progress.

The digital format of the therapy helps remove many of the barriers to traditional mental health services faced by patients, such as cost, physical accessibility and stigma.

SilverCloud Health CEO Ken Cahill said: “Through this exciting research collaboration with Microsoft, SilverCloud Health will be able to leverage the latest in artificial intelligence and machine learning to further enhance our digital mental health platform.

“This truly is therapy for the 21st century; enabling more personalised treatment, earlier and easier access, and most importantly delivering ever increasing clinical outcomes.”

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Microsoft Research Cambridge clinicians believe that by analysing different types of engagement behaviours through a machine learning framework, they will be able to better identify which CBT strategies are most effective for individual patients. This would enable them to receive personalised treatment that better fits their needs.

SilverCloud is the most widely-used digital CBT platform in the UK, employed by over 70% of NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services. One in four UK adults are affected by a mental health condition each year, care for which is often difficult to access due to constrained services.

Microsoft Research Cambridge lab director Christopher Bishop said: “SilverCloud Health is one of the very few digital mental health platforms that has been deployed at scale in routine clinical care, and currently has the largest real-world patient user base of its kind.

“The aim of this project is very much aligned to our ambition to empower healthcare workers and patients through access to effective, intelligent technologies.”