Psychosis is a condition that alters your perception of reality and is a severe and debilitating symptom of mental illness. It is known that early diagnosis and treatment can significantly reduce its impact and lead much more quickly to a meaningful recovery and improved outlook.
Early intervention in psychosis (EIP) teams were set up in the late 1990s as part of the national service framework for mental health and, in 2015, NHS England committed to a new standard for EIP, to minimise wait time and improve equity of treatment for people experiencing first episode psychosis (FEP).
The Oxford-based South Region EIP Programme works to improve equity of EIP services across the south of England and, until 2015, was collecting and collating performance data from individual teams through Excel workbooks shared by email. We were asked at that time if we could help with what had become an increasingly time-consuming and error-prone process, and our answer was to create a prototype online web app that would improve security, reliability, and efficiency: the ‘EIP Matrix’.
The first incarnation of the EIP Matrix was quite simple but immediately effective and very well received by teams across the south of England. In just a few weeks from the initial request for help, the Matrix had gone into operation and collated enough quality data to become the source for the programme’s 2015/16 annual report:
In fact, the reduction in turnaround time from data-gathering to action was so dramatic that in the case of one service in the southwest of England, an increase in funding in excess of £1million was reckoned to have been expedited by 9 months.
Success in 2015 created the appetite for a new, improved Matrix that could boast an interactive and graphical dashboard, more sophisticated questioning and reporting so EIP Matrix version 2 was built in 2016. For the 2016/17 season, the programme’s success was repeated, and its reputation was growing alongside its track record. In 2017, the team was shortlisted for a prestigious British Medical Journal (BMJ) Award.
Every aspect of administering of the EIP Matrix is done in-house, testifying to the simplicity of design not only for its users but for managers too. The system was designed to be hosted and managed alongside others run by and for the EIP team. After some minor updates in 2017, there has been no call for development or fixes, nor for maintenance or support beyond standard server and software updates, which are all handled by the team’s own IT staff.
Into 2018, 2019 and 2020 the EIP Matrix has continued to play a critical role in the success of the South Region EIP Programme, underpinning each year’s annual report and providing the foundation for decisions about funding and resourcing of all EIP services across the south of England.