Much like the entire healthcare system, mental health services in the NHS and wider community are facing unprecedented pressure. Rising demand, increased awareness, and stretched budgets make diagnosing and treating mental health conditions a considerable challenge.
It’s an urgent issue that affects everyone. Last year, mental health patients in Accident & Emergency departments waited more than 5.4 million hours. Vulnerable groups like pregnant women aren’t receiving the care they need—not because of a lack of funding, but because of overwhelmed workforces and chronic understaffing. And those people who do receive treatment are significantly less likely to be satisfied with their experience than those with physical conditions.
Technology like AI and speech recognition has the potential to raise standards of mental health care. For example, recent studies show how speech recognition could be used to detect the signs of depression. However, despite recent advances in AI and natural language processing, there’s just no substitute for the distinct, empathetic role of a mental health professional (MHP).
Mental health specialists routinely go above and beyond to capture the often lengthy context around a patient’s condition. It’s a significant drain on already exhausted medical professionals and Allied Health Professionals (AHPs), not just during the day, but out of hours and during valuable home time. It’s here that technology can be most impactful, not replacing professionals, but enabling them to work more flexibly and focus on what matters most: their patients and their personal time.
A flashpoint for mental health care
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted mental health for the worse, with numerous sacrifices made to combat the virus and widespread uncertainty. Society as a whole saw a groundswell in dormant or entirely new mental health conditions. Mental health professionals were faced with even more work—only completed thanks to their commitment/passion for their work, and a great deal of time and effort.
This mental health crisis led to what former Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid described as ‘a decade of change in just two years.’ This quote from a Mental Health Summit speech reflects both the rapid increase in mental health conditions—but also a rapid shift in priorities for the government.
Unfortunately, two years of rapid change can’t undo the damage of decades of underfunding. In January 2023, the UK government pledged £150 million to support urgent mental health care, but health and care providers are already dealing with chronic understaffing. Data from Mind shows that, as far back as 2013, four in ten mental health trusts had staffing levels below benchmarks. More recent reports from the British Medical Association show that the mental health workforce has had little growth in the decade since.
While more investment in mental health provision is welcome, it must be targeted appropriately—and applied consistently. Building highly qualified capacity takes time. Improving the mental health landscape will be a long, arduous process. Those patients suffering with mental health conditions can’t wait for Trusts to find, hire, and grow their resources and human expertise.
Investing in mental health professionals (MHPs)
Investment in patient-facing services will always be vital to transformation, but there’s also a significant opportunity to invest in the capacity that’s already there. This starts with understanding and supporting the overworked mental health teams on the frontlines of the patient experience.
Reported by the CQC, 45% of patients aren’t always given enough time to discuss their needs. This reflects a department under pressure—and that’s pressure that the right technology can alleviate.
The work of mental health professionals is notoriously complex. The role is wide and varied. And professionals need to be multiskilled in providing advice and counselling, behavioural management, and developing strategies for patients to manage their thoughts and emotions. Amid these considerable demands, unwieldy software and slow reporting processes negatively affect quality of care. This is a particularly big challenge in mental health, where collaboration across practitioners is so vital. In an effort to accurately capture the insights a colleague will need, it’s all too easy to overlook the needs of patients themselves.
How Augnito empowers mental health trusts
Developed in close partnership with medical professionals, Augnito delivers integrated, flexible speech recognition—and a more efficient, agile way of working. Mental health teams can switch to using Augnito’s designated mental health vocabulary, capturing all the vital clinical data naturally, descriptively, quickly, and accurately. This frees up time to focus on patients, not admin. More importantly, it reduces reporting that encroaches on home life—often the case at the end of the day when the MHP is finished.
Crucially, Augnito was built for the fast-moving, collaborative nature of healthcare. Patient notes can be captured on any device—Windows, MacOS, smartphone, or tablet—or directly in an existing clinical system. And a focus on security means information can be safely stored, fed into other systems, or securely shared with other teams across healthcare and social care as necessary.
Available in the cloud on a simple subscription basis, Augnito offers:
- Beyond 99% accuracy
- Support for any accent out-of-the-box
- No need for time-consuming voice training
- Faster reporting with average 5% efficiency gains
AI-powered speech recognition like Augnito won’t transform mental health provision itself. But it can transform how MHP’s work every day, enabling them to care for patients with more eye contact, more time to talk and listen, applying more attention to every step along the care journey to improved mental health.
Learn more about Augnito
Augnito is already impacting the patient journey through a growing list of UK reseller and integration partners. Request a demo to try Augnito Spectra for 7 days to see how it can help you.