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Digital tool delivers mental health boost

A digital dashboard has helped an NHS trust deliver improved mental health care and make around £1.7m worth of efficiency gains.

Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust was the first trust in the country to trial the Management and Supervision Tool, or MaST, which uses predictive analytics to help staff to improve decision-making.

The software helped the trust’s community mental health teams better manage growing caseloads and rising numbers of people with complex mental health needs during the pandemic.

The Innovation Agency commissioned a report by health economists who found that a shift in activity from inpatient to community care led to the estimated £1.7m efficiency in a six-month period after MaST was introduced.

MaST’s analytics helped staff proactively review community cases and prioritise resources to prevent relapses among patients.

Frontline staff, including doctors, nurses and team managers, used MaST to analyse data from many sources; the technology was then able to highlight significant information that is often captured but may go unnoticed.

The system, coupled with a new crisis resolution home treatment pathway (CRHT), led to a fall in mental health crisis rates and a reduction in length of inpatient stays following a mental health crisis. There was also an increase in the proportion of people followed up within 48 hours and seven days of discharge.

MaST’s deployment was so successful it was adopted by all the trust’s community mental health teams as a normal way of working, and it is now being spread to other services.

Mersey Care serves more than 11 million people, offering specialist inpatient and community services that support mental health, learning disabilities, addictions, brain injuries and physical health, and is one of only three trusts in the UK that provide high security mental health facilities.

Adam Drage, Clinical Service Lead at Mersey Care, said: “MaST allows us to see where the risk and complexity is in our caseloads, so that we can prioritise who we need to see right now and who might be ready to move on to a different care pathway. 

“We have the right data and intelligence to inform safer decisions about the people on our caseloads.

“MaST is a solution which helps clinicians, team managers and strategic leaders to understand our community service caseloads.”

MaST is provided by Holmusk, a company that specialises in improving the way mental health services use data.

Caroline Gadd is a director at Holmusk and a Fellow of the NHS Innovation Accelerator, an organisation that supports outstanding healthcare innovators and helps them spread their innovations.

She said: “The reason the system has been so effective is that we’ve worked very closely with frontline staff to support them in taking on new ways of working.

“This in turn allows staff to take ownership of the solutions so that data-driven solutions become an everyday part of the way they work.

“We help teams change the way they think about and use data so they can identify those people at greater risk of using crisis services. They key to doing that is to present the data in a very simple way that staff can quickly understand.

“We’re really pleased that our work with Mersey Care has delivered such positive results and that the Innovation Agency has highlighted them for us.”

Laura Boland, Innovation Insight Programme Manager at the Innovation Agency, said MaST addressed NHS Long Term Plan pledges to improve the treatment of severe mental illness, including the care of patients experiencing a crisis.

“We knew that MaST could deliver impressive results and we wanted to support its implementation with a report that would underline its potential.

“The software can help prevent relapses, reduce hospital admissions and give a better all-round patient experience, as well as help teams organise themselves more effectively.”

Several NHS trusts in Greater Manchester and London have now adopted MaST and the company aims to spread its service across the North of England.


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