Digital therapeutic course ‘HelloBetter Stress and Burnout’ has been approved by the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices as a Digital Health Application (DiGA). As a result, it can now be prescribed to around 50 million adults in Germany. Recently, Emmanuel Macron announced plans to replicate Germany’s DiGA Fast Track process in France – as reported in Healthcare IT News.
WHAT’S THE IMPACT
‘HelloBetter Stress and Burnout’ is a digital health intervention for the treatment of stress, exhaustion, insomnia and depression. It is now integrated into Germany’s health system and can be offered as a course of treatment by therapists and doctors.
The web application is said to be the only digital therapeutic for treating burnout. It also has an optional companion app, based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). It offers digital burnout therapy online. Psychologists guide patients through the therapy course, providing support and feedback.
The three-month programme is divided into seven course units, lasting for around one hour each. Patients learn how to reduce stress levels through mindfulness techniques, behavioural activation and psychoeducation, which refers to the process of providing education and information on mental health issues.
THE LARGER TREND
About one-third of the world’s population report feeling stressed and worried, according to Gallup – while the pandemic is widely understood to have exacerbated this.
Burnout is now recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) within the framework of the International Classification of Disease.
A randomised controlled trial (RCT) of ‘HelloBetter Stress and Burnout’ was carried out with 264 participants at Leuphana University of Lüneburg in Germany and the results showed that they experienced a very strong reduction in stress, as well as reduced depressive symptoms, anxiety, insomnia and emotional exhaustion.
ON THE RECORD
“The digital therapeutic programs developed by HelloBetter have proven to be effective in a number of clinical trials,” said Barr Taylor, Professor for Psychiatry (Emeritus) at Stanford University. “These programs provide easy access to evidence-based treatment without any waiting time, help people to deal with their mental health struggles and might even reduce mental health treatment costs.
“The reimbursement of HelloBetter Stress and Burnout by all German public health insurance companies is a huge step forward for the digital health scene worldwide, and positions Germany to be at the forefront in providing effective digital therapeutics to treat mental health problems.”
David Ebert, founder and chief scientist at HelloBetter, said: “Our mission was to help people with mental health problems in a very low-threshold and yet effective way. On average, it takes six to eight years until those affected eventually decide to see a doctor or therapist.
“Stigma and shame are some of the main reasons why it takes so long until they finally look for help. And when they finally decide to seek treatment, the health systems in many countries often don’t make it easy. The average waiting time for a treatment place in Germany is up to six months, and some affected don’t get a therapy place at all.
“As a result, too many mental illnesses remain untreated and become chronic diseases over time or are only treated by general practitioners. Our mission was to close this gap in care, relieve the burden of the health system and give people with mental stress a stronger voice.”
The startup was founded as a spin-off of Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany. The company has already secured around €5 million, with investors including Ideamed Gesundheitsgruppe (a psychotherapeutic hospital operator), as well as from the health and insurance sectors.