Here Journal of mHealth talks to Ken Cahill, CEO of SilverCloud about what it takes to deliver a full digital mental health system on a global scale.
Ken Cahill is the CEO and co-founder of SilverCloud Health with offices in Boston, Dublin, and London. SilverCloud is the world’s leading digital mental health platform. It enables the delivery of clinically validated
digital therapeutic care programs that are proven to significantly improve clinical outcomes, increase access & scale while reducing costs of care delivery.
You are a co-founder of SilverCloud Health. What gaps were you and your colleagues looking to address in the mental health space when you started the company? How has the mission evolved, and how much does it remain focused on that goal today?
SilverCloud Health was born from over a decade of academic and clinical research into the online delivery of mental health and chronic care. This research focused specifically on tackling key issues that existing online solutions suffer from poor end-user/patient engagement rates, high end-user/patient dropout rates, and limited clinical improvement - predominantly, the existing solutions do not work when deployed in the real world.
While the company has accomplished so much since we were founded in 2012, with over 200 organizations using the Silver-Cloud platform to deliver care today, mental health remains a very uncomfortable topic for many populations, and stigma and lack of resources continue to lead to insufficient attention being paid to the issue. We remain steadfastly focused on SilverCloud being the global leader in digital mental health care delivery. SilverCloud’s online programs address a broad spectrum of conditions and disorders, providing a substantial positive impact for the hundreds of thousands that have used it so far. We are looking forward to bringing SilverCloud to many millions.
What mental health trends are you seeing today that are driving the need for behavioral health solutions like SilverCloud Health?
There is a severe lack of mental health resources to meet the treatment requirements of a growing population of individuals battling behavioral health issues. It is estimated that over 44% of therapists in the USA will retire in the next four years. In addition, according to Mental Health America, one out of five adults with a mental illness reported that they were not able to receive the treatment they needed, which means that over 24 million individuals are currently going untreated. This issue can be attributed to several factors, including a lack of insurance/ limited coverage of services, a lack of available treatment types,
and a shrinking mental health workforce. There is no way to deliver care today, and in the future, without heavily leveraging evidence-based mental health interventions such as SilverCloud.
How would you describe your customer base? In what markets do you see SilverCloud Health gain the most traction today?
Our company is currently working with over 250 organizations in multiple countries, which include a mix of health systems/ providers, insurers, and universities. As of April 2019, we've supported over 250,000 individual users since 2012, with over 125,000 of those having joined in the past 12 months alone. In terms of company growth, one area in particular that we see much interest in is using SilverCloud earlier in the health care continuum - mainly primary care. Primary care physicians have limited time and resources to build a therapeutic relationship and provide access to effective mental health care. SilverCloud is being chosen in the primary care setting to provide easier and earlier access to mental health care while removing the need to push the patient to an external network, with a significant wait time, and the need to drive to a physical office. SilverCloud enables the healthcare organization to improve outcomes while increasing the scale of care, increase access, and reduce costs. SilverCloud Health's library of digital mental health programs
is quite extensive.
How does each offering deliver and what are the next behavioral health conditions that you are hoping to tackle with your offering?
The SilverCloud platform delivers 30+ evidence-based programs for a wide range of therapy areas including depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia/sleep, and eating disorders, as well as long-term chronic conditions, including diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic pain. Our interactive programs were designed in direct collaboration with leading experts around the globe to offer end users/patients tailored therapeutic content. The
programs include the same social and supportive elements often associated with face-to-face treatment, which is part of their success. In terms of what's next, we are continually innovating and collaborating with our partners to develop programs for different treatment coverage areas. For example, we are currently building out a substance abuse program that will address alcohol misuse, opioid abuse, and rehab transition to maintenance. We just
finished the development of a perinatal support program and are currently developing a pediatrics support program that will be delivered on 31st August 2019. We are also continuing our innovation across the platform’s user experience/interface by building out the use of AI to support mental health decision making and user engagement based on profiles of use over time.
SilverCloud Health talks about offering evidence-based programs based on years of clinical research. How do you think this helps differentiate your offering in a very crowded digital mental health marketplace?
The single most important thing is the achievement of clinically significant outcomes. Demonstrable outcomes through full randomized control trials as well a real-world delivery is now being demanded by healthcare organizations, which is the result of the industry maturing and moving from seeing digital distribution as a niche to being a core part of the care continuum.
There has been an influx of mental health apps and tools hitting the marketplace; while this has caused an increase in noise‚ healthcare organizations are demanding more. These organizations are looking to more than just tick an innovation box; they
are looking to show real results, outcomes, and value using digital delivery.
SilverCloud is a full clinical platform, delivering evidence-based supports. SilverCloud enables the healthcare organization to use the platform across the diagnosis levels, intensity, therapy areas, and care continuums from primary care, secondary and specialty care. Integrating deeply within the technologies/systems as well as patient portals and case/billing management systems allows health systems to fully deliver care without comprising quality
or need to install additional technologies/infrastructure.
Digital therapeutics, or technologies that deliver evidence-based therapeutic interventions to patients, are increasingly gaining recognition in the healthcare space. Where does SilverCloud Health fit within this category?
SilverCloud has been built on over 16 years of research focused on patient engagement and outcomes. SilverCloud has been recognized at the highest standard in digital care from the NHS National Institute of Clinical Excellence, recently rating Silver-Cloud with the highest level as a Tier 3b intervention through to multiple third-party awards and certifications such as ISO 13485 - a standard that certifies SilverCloud Health to develop software classified as a medical device.
In October of 2018, the Digital Therapeutics Alliance (DTA) established a definition of the digital therapeutic industry which includes delivering evidence-based therapeutic interventions to patients that are driven by high-quality software programs to prevent, manage, or treat a medical and/or psychological disorder
or disease. As mentioned previously, our clinically-validated programs, which are backed by years of academic research and proven outcomes, means we are particularly aligned with this framework. As a team, we are looking forward to working with the DTA and our peers in digital therapeutics to grow access
to these offerings for patients, healthcare providers, and payers.
What's next for SilverCloud Health?
SilverCloud will remain firmly focused on continuing its research to enable people to have earlier, easier and better access to mental health care. Today, SilverCloud is being actively prescribed and subscribed to end users/patients across multiple countries. Very soon, we will see SilverCloud being seen as a full Digital Mental Health System, delivering earlier, easier access to mental health care. Part of our mission is to help as many people as possible with their
mental, chronic, and emotional health programs. Having passed the 250,000 end-user marks in April, we are intensely focused on the one million user mark as our next milestone. As part of this mission, we will continue to develop evidence-based programs and increase wearables integration to support users in their ability to access tracking data and monitor moods. SilverCloud is committed to delivering quality mental healthcare to everyone who needs it. n