NHS calls for more developers to get involved in apps library
More external assessors likely to be appointed as health service looks to become foremost provider of digital health tools
The NHS wants more developers to submit tools for inclusion in its library of apps, which it hopes will become the “go-to place for patients to access safe and effective digital tools”.
The call for more ideas and products to be submitted to the NHS Apps Library comes after digital healthcare specialist firm Our Mobile Health was handed a contract to assist NHS Digital in assessing bids for inclusion. As the platform grows, more external experts are likely to brought in to help run the rule over potential additions, according to NHS Digital programme director Hazel Jones.
"In the future, we hope to invite more third-party assessors to work with us on the assessment procedure and develop and speed up the system so that we can improve the array of apps featured on the library,” she said. "This is an exciting opportunity for the many developers out there that come from all sections of the market to put forward their apps for assessment. Being featured on the library is not only a great bonus for developers, but it also helps CCGs (clinical commissioning groups) and patients, who will have the reassurance that the apps featured are evidence-based and result in positive patient outcomes."
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A total of 46 apps are currently featured in the library. Only one of these – the myCOPD app to help sufferers of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease manage their condition – has been approved for use in the NHS. This means it has been ruled as safe and clinically effective.
Two more are currently being tested by healthcare professionals and their patients: Chill Panda, a tool for managing anxiety; and Cypher, an anonymous social network allowing people to share thoughts and feelings in confidence, as well as offer support to others.
The other 43 have all passed a technical assessment and been deemed to be safe and compliant with data-protection regulations.
Juliet Bauer, chief digital officer at NHS England, said: "Digital technology is now a part of all our lives and, in the NHS, we want to harness the advantages of digital to improve services and empower patients to take control of their own health. Through this partnership with Our Mobile Health, the NHS Apps Library will grow, providing the public with even more NHS and recommended apps they can use to manage their health and wellbeing.
She added: "Apps can provide a real insight into patients' conditions, enabling clinicians to deliver better, more relevant treatment and give patients more control over their care."
Developers can visit this website to apply for inclusion in the NHS Apps Library. Once the app has been submitted and relevant technical information has been provided, the assessment process takes about four weeks.
West London-based Our Mobile Health was awarded the deal to help assess healthcare apps via the G Cloud 9 framework.
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