More and more people are using apps to help manage their health. For the most part, these apps either help us find out relevant health information or they help us record and track personal health data and offer tailored recommendations. Clearly, technology has the power to transform our lives for the better, but at the same time – with an array of health apps to choose from – how do we know which health apps are safe for us to use?
We have spoken to people and health care professionals who have told us that there is value in providing a listing of health apps that are safe to use, making it easier for people to find apps that they can trust and which adhere to NHS safety standards in health IT.
In December 2012, we developed an early prototype of a Health Apps Library with a view to testing our hypothesis that people that people would benefit from a trusted listing of health apps. We built the alpha in less than six weeks and went straight into user testing with the development community, citizens and care professionals.
The prototype tested well, although we had a lot of work to do from a design and presentation perspective, our essential user need “help me find safe and trusted health apps” was fulfilled.
Since January 2013 we have been designing the beta of the Health Apps Library. We have worked on a weekly release cycle and have continuously tested the development of the Library with a cross section of users including the public, GPs and health care professionals. Their feedback has strongly directed the development of the product and given us confidence that we have been heading in the right direction. We’ll be officially launching first public iteration of the Health Apps Library at Expo in March 2013.
A key focus during this time has been on ensuring that the apps listed in the Library are clinically safe and suitable for people who living in the UK. We are grateful to Dr Maureen Baker, Clinical Director for Patient Safety, and her team who has developed a review process that applies, for the first time, safety standards in health technology to health apps.
Dr Maureen Baker outlines the review process here in more detail.
We’re keen that we don’t limit our definition of apps just to mobile devices but instead open this up to an application that can be accessed from a consumer device such as a smartphone or tablet or through a standard web browser. People have told us that they want to use apps through a range of devices and in a way that best fits in with their lives.
As this is a beta product we would really like your feedback. Please visit the site and try it out at apps.nhs.uk. You can feedback to us either by commenting on this blog or writing to us via functionality available on the site itself – you will find a customer feedback form available at the bottom of every page.
By providing a trusted listing of health application and online tools we can also highlight to people new services that they otherwise might not be aware of. In particular, we are looking to highlight apps that enable people to transact with the NHS, including providing access to records, booking appointments and online repeat prescriptions.
If you know of any applications that deliver transactional services to people, or if you are developer that is producing transactional apps, then we would love to hear from you by way of comment on this blog.
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