Health professionals see digital health apps as a crucial step on the road to care that is more efficient and more patient centred than today. How can patients be sure that they’re getting the accurate information they need?
More than 90% of health professionals think that digital health is one of the major weapons to enhance NHS services. But there are three big problems standing in the way.
- Finding the right app: With 385,000 in app stores, how can you find the great ones in such a crowded space?
- Trusting an app: With app stores unregulated, how do you know if an app is safe to use and won’t mistreat your data?
- Integrating the app into care: How can apps work along with other services you use?
That’s where ORCHA comes in. We’ve reviewed almost 5000 apps to date and test more apps than anyone, which helps us to cover more conditions. Our evaluations include criteria set out by regulatory bodies across the world.
“How do you know if an app is safe to use and won’t mistreat your data?”
We’re home to the world’s only library that lets professionals and patients find and compare health apps against a range of criteria including effectiveness, usability and security. This helps people to find or recommend apps with confidence.
To drive uptake of health apps and target specific communities, we provide locally branded and tailored microsites. Our tools enable professionals to prescribe health apps, which is proven to increase the take-up of apps.
The best way to support the use of apps to support healthy living and condition management is by embedding and standardising app recommendation as part of care pathways. We support NHS trusts and clinical commissioning groups to embed apps system-wide.
We now work with 20% of NHS organisations, including NHS Digital. When healthcare professionals use the ORCHA platform, they achieve a 71% activation rate amongst patients. 200,000 consumers have signed-up to our service; and most importantly, every day we hear of the real impact health apps are making on the health of the nation.
Eating disorders can severely affect the quality of life of the sufferer and those that care for them and can shorten a person’s life. But with the right care, people can recover.
Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust hadn’t consistently used digital solutions as part of therapy, but saw that patients were increasingly on digital media. When the Trust provided its staff with access to the ORCHA platform, the eating disorder team immediately saw the potential and now prescribes health apps to supplement and enhance its therapy.
Dr Hannah Wilson, Clinical Psychologist, explained: “I’ve found apps especially helpful when a patient is waiting to start their treatment. Although the team always strives to offer treatment to someone within a short space of time, sadly there is often a wait between assessment and treatment. This way I can recommend apps that can start to help them in that time.”
She added: “For me, eating disorders are complex. An app by itself is unlikely to be enough to enable a patient to recover, but I have found that they support, supplement and back up sessions. The apps enable patients to receive some support between appointments. For example, they help people to more accurately monitor what we have asked them to, be it their mood or what they’ve eaten. People carry their phone everywhere and so are much more likely to simply and discreetly make a note, rather than pull a piece of paper that could be spotted by others or lost. Apps can also provide a source of motivation to help patients keep to their treatment plans. Some also provide practical assistance with meal planning.”
Talking broadly of the programme, Dr Wilson said: “Our clients of all ages use apps every day. If we can become part of that world, we can become more effective and sustainable. Apps also provide a great tool for patients to use long after they have been discharged from our service, to help maintain their progress and stay well.”
Health services across the country echo such results. From diabetes prevention programmes, to occupational health teams, professionals are working with ORCHA to pinpoint the best apps that will help improve services and make a difference to patients.
5 steps to start embracing health apps:
- Identify a shortlist of your priority health conditions
- Set demographic and activation targets
- Research what digital technologies are available for these conditions and the patient characteristics
- See if you can trust the apps you identify or look for inspiration in our app review library: appfinder.orcha.co.uk
- Identify points in the patient pathway when the app is best embedded.
Liz Ashall-Payne is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of ORCHA.
Go to www.orcha.co.uk