Liz Ashall-Payne, founder of the Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Applications(ORCHA)  talked exclusively to BJ-HC about the complex process of reviewing apps.


Health professionals think health apps would really benefit their patients

Liz Ashall-Payne, founder of the Organization for the Review of Care and Health Applications (ORCHA) talked exclusively to BJ-HC about the complex process of reviewing apps.

“The developer community is at large quite immature; what we find is that when we review an app, the process is so complicated that the app developer cannot possibly know about every single process and every single standard.

“As a clinician, you do not have time to find which app is the best, you do not have time to find out whether they are valid or they are safe; I am a clinician by background, and I know exactly what the challenges are.

“With our review process, we have a team that meets every six weeks so if you’re a singlehanded app developer you are probably missing an element of what you need to do to make your app and that is really important because a lot of our developers are not huge companies,” she added.

[London, UK] A new study shows there is a strong belief among mHealth app developers that platforms “will become an integrated part of the healthcare system” while reducing the costs for hospital readmission and length of stay.

Research2guidance published its 6th annual study on mHealth in October last year, analyzing the current status and trends of the global market.

Since 2015, reportedly 100,000 mHealth apps have been added although the demand side has gradually decreased from 35% to only 7% this year.

The research2guidance study shows that the number of global mHealth app publishers has doubled over the past four years.

Nearly 12,000 mental health apps on the market

ORCHA figures recently showed that there were nearly 12,000 apps dealing only with mental health issues; while approximately 5,000 focused on depression and 3,000 on anxiety.

“At the same time, there might be other health areas where only one or two apps can be found,”

Ashall-Payne explains.

The organization is working with a number of different partners such as universities or the Academic Health Science Networks, which were set up by NHS England to identify, develop and adopt new technologies.

“We are working with quite a large number of both NHS and local authority communities and organisations, predominantly across Lancashire, Great Manchester and Essex.”

On a national level, they are also in the process of collaborating with NHS Digital to look at solutions that would help them endorse apps.

“Part of that conversation also includes talks with Public Health England and the National Institute of Clinical Evidence.

“If we’re looking now at what’s happening with the population, people are already using these apps and most of them have one on their phone; the NHS is still behind,” she concludes.

‘We need better apps than the ones that are available in the market’

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced in September that information from approved health apps will be included in personal health records in the UK, as reported by the BBC.

“We are going to make very big moves in the next 12 months into apps and wearables.

“I wear a Fitbit, many people use apps. What is going to change with apps is the way that these apps link directly to our own medical records.

“We will also in the next 12 months be having a competition because we think we need better apps than the ones that are available in the market.

“We don’t want to develop them ourselves but we want them to be developed by entrepreneurs who have the specialist knowledge and creativity to do this,”

he added.

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