The NHS has called for more application developers to submit tools for inclusion in the NHS Apps Library, to help improve the digital services it offers.
The NHS Digital appointed digital healthcare specialist, Our Mobile Health, to work with it in assessing apps for inclusion in the library. The health service hopes that the library will become the “go-to place for patients to access safe and effective digital tools”.
The library, which is currently at public beta-stage, assists patients in finding suitable digital healthcare tools to help manage their health. Apps submitted by developers will have to pass assessment criteria, ensuring they are safe and useful for patients.
Currently, 46 apps are there in the library, of which only the myCOPD app, which helps sufferers of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease manage their condition – has been approved for use in the NHS.
Two more apps – 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 – are currently being tested. The other 43 apps have cleared a technical assessment and been deemed to be safe and compliant with data-protection regulations.
NHS Digital is keen on the role of third-party developers in providing new apps, rather than taking sole responsibility.
NHS Digital programme director Hazel Jones said: “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. 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.”
NHS England chief digital officer Juliet Bauer 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 well-being. 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.”