APIs, APPt Prescriptions and New Proposals: ORCHA’s News Roundup

Kate Gilding

Marketing Manager

Want to keep up-to-date with the latest and most significant developments in digital health? Read on to discover how APIs could revolutionise healthcare, the challenges of prescribing the right health apps to patients, and the FDA’s newly proposed regulatory framework.


Digital Health: Revolutionary APIs?


According to Carlos Oliveira, CEO at cloud-based integration platform SPINR, Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs, are ‘smart controls that can extract, filter and combine data to feed business logic, free[ing] developers to mix and match sources quickly and reliably’. Thus, APIs allow the complexities of data access and control to become conceivable to all.

In this vein, Digital Health Age’s article asks whether an API-first approach could revolutionise healthcare. With the healthcare sector increasingly trying to move away from paper-based processes, the use of APIs to increase the accessibility of tools that simplify complex digital processes will likely prove invaluable to healthcare organisations.

APIs are becoming central to innovation and can help to overcome some of the challenges arising from dealing with large amounts of complex data. Digital Health Age suggests that an API-first approach could revolutionise healthcare by helping to solve integration challenges, automating and streamlining digital operations, and conserving valuable resources by enabling speed and efficiency.

Considering the immense pressure on healthcare resources, the industry stands to benefit from embracing APIs as a method of optimising limited resources and integrating new technologies.

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mHealth: An APPt Prescription?


As discussed by MobiHealthNews, Kaiser Permanente’s Project Chamai is creating an app prescription ecosystem for their clinicians, currently comprising six mental health apps. This internal project arose from the difficulty to research, evaluate and subsequently recommend the right health apps to patients. Clinicians do not have the time to search through the many health apps available, creating the demand for a digital prescribing tool.

ORCHA’s app review process similarly breaks through the noise of the many health apps on the market. Through a 160-point evaluation process, ORCHA increases awareness and accessibility for clinicians who wish to prescribe apps, patients who will benefit from using apps, and the general public looking to improve their health and wellbeing.

The need for regulated and trustworthy health apps lies at the heart of ORCHA’s work. Just as Kaiser Permanente increases clinical access to a variety of apps, ORCHA’s vast app library comprises health apps for multiple health conditions, meaning clinicians are able to prescribe those apps most relevant to individual health needs. Users can see which apps are goal based, gamified and informative, amongst many other criteria, all prior to download. Facilitating knowledge of the safety and effectiveness of health apps is the first step to prescribing the right app and improving patients’ health through digital.

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App Regulation: New Proposals


The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed a new regulatory framework for software as a medical device (SaMD) technologies that are powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). The proposed framework means that such technologies would require a premarket submission for significant software changes or modifications.

As reported by Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS), SaMDs that are based on AI and ML would be placed into one of four categories of risk, based on the clinical situation and intended use. This aims to establish quality systems and greater transparency in terms of safety and effectiveness for both patients and clinicians.

Likewise, ORCHA is committed to increasing transparency in healthcare for patients, professionals and populations. By using a structured app review process that scores apps according to their Data and Security, Clinical Effectiveness and User Experience, ORCHA fosters trust in health apps and ensures that as many people as possible have access to outstanding digital health.

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Founded by NHS clinicians, ORCHA is the world’s leading digital health evaluation and distribution organisation. We provide services to national health bodies across three continents, including the NHS in 50% of UK regions, delivering national accreditation frameworks, bespoke Digital Health Libraries, and professional recommendation tools, specific to the needs of our clients. ORCHA’s unique Review Engine assesses digital health solutions against more than 300 measures across Clinical/Professional Assurance, Data & Privacy, and Usability & Accessibility, plus additional criteria depending on needs.

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