A London-headquartered HealthTech startup has achieved world-first certification for its AI mental health chatbot that predicts disorders with a 93% accuracy.

Limbic has announced that its psychological assessment tool, Limbic Access, has achieved Class IIa UKCA medical device certification – making it the first and only AI mental health chatbot in the world to earn this status for its clinical effectiveness, safety and risk management.

The certification confirms that its mental health e-triage chatbot, which is able to diagnose mental health disorders with an accuracy rate of 93 per cent, can be safely incorporated into the psychological therapy pathway to support patient self-referral.

Dr Ross Harper, co-founder and CEO of Limbic, said: “This is a landmark moment for mental healthcare, as it provides strong evidence that our psychological assessment software is a safe and clinically effective way to augment the therapy process within mental health services at a time when such support has never been more needed.”

A total of 130,000 NHS patients have so far accessed psychological therapy using Limbic’s AI mental health chatbot, making it the most widely used solution of its kind in the NHS.

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UKCA auditors, SGS, reviewed clinical evidence generated from more than 60,000 referrals and found that, when compared with standard referral methods such as telephone calls and online forms, Limbic Access delivered a 53 per cent improvement in recovery rates and an 18 per cent reduction in treatment dropouts.

Limbic Access is already working extensively in the NHS and is estimated to have saved more than 30,000 clinical hours.

Dr Harper continued: “Limbic Access is reducing the workload for IAPT – Improving Access to Psychological Therapies – services by gathering information through a friendly, supportive chatbot conversation and using its machine learning capabilities to deliver effective triage.

“The result is that clinicians are more informed ahead of appointments and can spend more time focusing on the patient; services have less admin to complete, and patients enjoy shorter wait times and faster recovery. It’s win-win-win.

“It can be daunting to take the first step to accessing mental health services, and patients often dread having to articulate their most sensitive thoughts and feelings over the phone to another human. The fact that Limbic is unashamedly an AI removes the pressure from that conversation, while the warm, supportive tone of the chatbot means they still get the benefits of the human experience, just without the worry.”

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Andy Wright, chief operating officer of Insight IAPT, a not-for-profit organisation providing free talking therapies across the UK on behalf of the NHS, said: “The majority of our referrals are digital; 90 per cent of these now come via Limbic AI. When we launched Limbic AI on our website, we experienced an immediate 32 per cent increase in access across our services.

“Limbic AI has allowed patients to refer themselves at a time most convenient to them, and to book an appointment directly with a practitioner. This has been so popular and successful that 40 per cent of our self-referrals are now received outside of our normal working hours.”