Ieso Digital Health: Stephen Freer

Ieso Digital Health, a digital health company specialising in internet enabled, evidence-based psychological therapies, has appointed Stephen Freer as chief clinical officer, succeeding Sarah Bateup who becomes chair of Ieso’s clinical advisory board and a clinical consultant.

Freer will be responsible for providing clinical governance, quality and patient safety across the organisation, and for mental health treatments and products.

Freer joined Ieso in 2016 as clinical lead, having previously worked with the organisation as a clinical affiliate cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) therapist in 2014. He has since worked in several senior clinical leadership roles, most recently clinical director.

Over the past six years, Freer has worked collaboratively with the clinical and product teams and in close partnership with Bateup. He has been central in managing the response to spikes in demand for mental health services during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Beyond Ieso, Stephen has held senior clinical positions within the healthcare sector including directing his own private practice, South West CBT, and leading clinical operations at Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. He was also an associate lecturer at the University of Exeter.

Nigel Pitchford, Chief Executive at Ieso, said: “Stephen is wel-positioned to take on the role as our new CCO; his unique clinical insight, combined with his commercial and operational experience, has already proven invaluable to the company in his prior roles. He has witnessed first-hand the benefits that patients receive from psychotherapy as well as the challenges they face within the current mental healthcare system. No doubt, the Covid-19 pandemic has given rise to many additional threats to mental wellbeing and Stephen will continue to move forward our mission of delivering world-class mental treatments to those who need it.”

Freer added: “Joining Ieso was the best decision I’ve made in my career. I have long been an advocate for the adoption of digital therapies and services alongside traditional models of care to provide patients with improved access and choice. The clinical data insights and quality assurance that online talking therapies offers allows us to continually learn what works for whom and adapt to provide therapists with the best advice, support and clinical tools to treat patients in the most effective way. Quite honestly, it’s ground-breaking!

“Clinical outcomes for patients experiencing common mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, have remained around the 50% mark for well over 10 years which is an unacceptable rate in any area of healthcare. We are seeing that more traditional models of a one-size-fits-all approach aren’t allowing services to breakthrough this barrier, and we are investing our efforts in our therapist network to raise and push beyond this current accepted standard of care.”

Working with 45% of the UK’s clinical commissioning groups and more than 27 NHS providers, Ieso provides an online CBT service for mental health patients. The company says it aims to expand on its clinical network of 650 NHS and private therapists across the UK.

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