A digital app could replace sleeping pills as a treatment for insomnia under new NHS guidelines.
This follows a recommendation from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), saying the app’s six-week treatment program could help save the NHS money and reduce prescriptions for drugs creating a addiction such as zolpidem and zopiclone.
The proposed app uses an artificial intelligence algorithm to offer users tailored cognitive behavioral therapy, with NICE analysis showing the app could be more beneficial than current NHS treatments.
NICE predicts around 800,000 people could benefit from the app in England alone, with around one in three people suffering from insomnia at some point in their life.
Jeanette Kusel, acting director of MedTech and digital in Nice, said: “So far, people with insomnia have been offered sleeping pills and have been informed about sleep hygiene, so the recommendation of our committee [the app] offers GPs and their patients a new treatment option.
“Our rigorous, transparent and evidence-based analysis revealed that [the app] is cost-effective for the NHS compared to usual primary care treatments. It will also reduce the reliance of people with insomnia on addictive drugs such as zolpidem and zopiclone.
“This is a good example of how a digital health technology can help the NHS. Evidence has shown that the use [the app] reduces the number of GP appointments people with insomnia need and will also reduce the number of prescriptions for sleeping pills dispensed by pharmacists.
The app costs £45 per person excluding VAT, but NICE says the app is cost-effective compared to typical primary care treatment processes, based on analysis of primary care resource utilization data before and after testing the app in nine GP practices.