Big Health’s programmes have helped numerous businesses boost productivity by improving employees’ sleep. With its recent fundraise, the company aims to take digital medicine further, tackling other mental health issues affecting the workforce
The company was co-founded by Peter Hames (an NHS Innovation Fellow) and Professor Colin Espie from the University of Oxford, in the interest of making evidence-based, non-drug solutions like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as scalable and accessible as pharmaceuticals.
As a proponent of digital medicine, Big Health has run Gold-standard clinical trials to demonstrate its programmes’ efficacy, starting with its first product, Sleepio, a digital sleep improvement programme which helps users overcome poor sleep, and in the process improve their mental health and wellbeing.
In the world’s first placebo-group randomised controlled trial (RCT) for a digital sleep programme, Sleepio was shown to be comparable in effect to in-person CBT, with 76 percent of insomnia sufferers achieving healthy sleep. In a separate study, it was shown to help anxiety sufferers reduce their symptoms. On an enterprise level, Sleepio has worked with multiple businesses, including Comcast, LinkedIn, Boston Medical Centre and Henry Ford Health System amongst others, as a way to boost productivity.
“Over 750,000 employees now have access to our Sleepio programme after our first full year in the U.S. market. This new investment allows us to push on towards our goal of helping millions back to good mental health, by growing the number of companies we work with and evolving our products to help address an ever-wider range of mental health issues. But we’ll only achieve this goal – and firmly establish a new ‘digital medicine’ industry – by remaining committed to evidence-based solutions that deliver real outcomes for users,” Peter Hames, co-founder and CEO of Big Health, said.
In efforts to build a better type of healthcare, Big Health heavily relies on research, according to Professor Colin Espie, co-founder and chief medical officer of Big Health. “Everything we do is rooted in scientific evaluation, robustly scrutinised, and published in leading clinical academic journals,” he explained.
“So far we have 14 published papers plus a considerable research pipeline, and we openly encourage independent investigators to evaluate our products and publish their findings. We believe an ethical approach to creating health solutions should be a critical value, not an inconvenience.”
In the UK the NHS lists Sleepio as a suggested provider for online mental health services. The new injection of capital will help the business ramp up research as it eyes solving other mental health issues.
In addition to Octopus Ventures, the funding round included participation from Kaiser Permanente Ventures, returning investor Index Ventures, Sean Duffy, the chief executive of Omada Health, and JamJar Investments, joining existing investors Esther Dyson and Peter Read.