PA partner Kate Woolland joins therapy provider Ieso Digital Health

06 December 2019 4 min. read
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Cognitive behavioural therapy provider Ieso Digital Health has appointed Kate Woolland as a Corporate Development Advisor at the Cambridge-based firm. Woolland arrives from PA Consulting, where she was a Partner in the consultancy’s health division.

The prevalence of mental illnesses in the UK remains high, with as many as one in every four individuals in Britain suffering at least one episode of some variety throughout their lives. Currently, around 8% of the population is in a state of depression, prompting many businesses across the country to create initiatives for staff on the matter. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a treatment that focuses on raising awareness of negative emotions and developing coping strategies.

Based in Cambridge’s St John’s Innovation Centre, Ieso Digital Health delivers CBT online, using written communication, in order to help patients live with stress, PTSD, anxiety, depression, social anxiety, phobias, and other mental health issues. As the low-cost treatment continues to be favoured by a cash-strapped health sector, Ieso has appointed Kate Woolland as Corporate Development Advisor at the firm. She will now take responsibility for strategic sales, commercial partnerships and senior stakeholder engagement regarding the firm’s therapies.

 Former PA Partner joins therapy provider Ieso Digital Health

Speaking on her new challenge, Woolland said, “Throughout my career, I’ve been driven by adapting to market changes and challenges, and exploiting these to find new paths to growth… I am excited to be joining Ieso at this pivotal time, when the company is developing something truly ground-breaking that will revolutionise mental healthcare. I look forward to working closely with the leadership team to foster and harness relationships with organisations who share our vision of defeating mental illness.”

Woolland arrives following 18 years in management consulting, most recently as a Partner in the healthcare practice at PA Consulting. During her 15 years with the firm, she helped deliver a number of change programmes in the healthcare sector, with a particular focus on NHS system and service redesign. Key programmes included the New Care Models programme for NHS England, and the Bedfordshire & Milton Keynes Healthcare Review. Prior to this, Woolland spent three years at Capgemini.

The new Ieso member arrives as the firm launches its new Eight Billion Minds programme. The digital therapeutics regime leverages analysis of 200,000 hours of patient therapy, with an aim of making mental health treatments accessible for all. Applying deep learning to the thousands of hours of therapy, in combination with practical knowledge of delivering tailored clinical outcomes, the company has decoded what works in real-world clinical settings, while planning to use new technology to distribute personalised therapies on a scale that is expensive and difficult in 1:1 delivery.

Nigel Pitchford, CEO at Ieso Digital Health, said, “The appointment of Kate Woolland underscores our approach to find the right people with the right skills to drive change, accelerate our development strategy and deliver growth, particularly now we have launched Eight Billion Minds, our digital therapeutics program. We have ambitious goals, and Kate has the right commercial mind-set to help maximise our potential and reach.We are thrilled to welcome Kate onto our team.”

CBT controversy

Following a decade of austerity, mental health services in the UK have been decimated. In the absence of more cost-intensive treatments – which look to get to the root of mental illnesses – being available, this means that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) increasingly recommends CBT. Focusing largely on living with the symptoms of mental illness, it has been criticised for putting the onus on individuals to ‘cope’ with issues, rather than encouraging the tackling of the social causes of such problems.

Such strategies have previously been wielded by governments looking for a way to push long-term sufferers of mental illness off social security payments, by providing ways to manage illnesses, rather than treat or cure them. For example, CBT was introduced to 40,000 recipients of Jobseeker’s Allowance, as part of then-Chancellor George Osborne’s back-to-work agenda.