Pharma insight on digital marketing, social media, mobile apps, online video, websites and interactive healthcare tools
by Dominic Tyer
Moves to bring some sense of order and objectivity to the burgeoning health app scene have stepped up a gear in the UK with the launch of a new NHS app library.
Run by the NHS Commissioning Board, the new library starts life with around 70 apps that have been reviewed by the NHS to ensure they are clinically safe for people to use.
It will be the first time health apps have received such a level of assessment and scrutiny and could cut through a regulatory mire that has so far focused on what apps should be considered as medical devices.
The NHS app library aims to give patients easy access to apps that can safely offer advice on their condition, repeat prescription booking, and access to test results and the most appropriate NHS service.
Tim Kelsey, national director for patients and information at the NHS Commissioning Board, said: “Giving people easier access to their NHS and improving outcomes with technology is something we are strongly committed to. People now use phone apps in almost all walks of life and health is no different.
“There is somewhere in the region of 13,000 apps out there which profess to give various types of medical advice. The library is a way of giving an NHS stamp of approval to apps so users know they are safe.”
The NHS plans to continually add apps to the library, which will be available at apps.nhs.uk and via the NHS Choices website, and uses a review process to apply, for the first time, safety standards in health technology to health apps.
Dr Maureen Baker, clinical director for patient safety at NHS Connecting for Health, explains the review process in the video below.
The NHS Commissioning Board is spearheading the government's plans for all GP practices in England to offer their patients online access to their records and transactional services by 2015.
The Board has also this week teamed up with Creative England, a national agency that invests in digital media, to launch a £250,000 app development investment fund.
Creative England will next month formerly invite small and medium-size enterprises (SME) to apply for funding and the competition is set to result in support for five new healthcare apps, funded 50 per cent by the fund and 50 per cent by the successful SME.
Along the way the NHS Commissioning Board will assist by suggesting the priority areas where apps might be most helpful and then by helping assess applications.