13 Jun 2019
During our recent attendance at HIMSS Europe 19 in Helsinki, ORCHA CEO, Liz Ashall-Payne, chaired and spoke in a number of sessions, as well as discussing ORCHA’s health app review process with HIMSS Consultant, John Crawford. Our contribution to HIMSS’ showcase of dynamic health-tech solutions, as featured in Healthcare IT News, highlighted the need to provide health app awareness, access and trust.
The interview for HIMSS TV began with Liz explaining that the initial idea for ORCHA came from thinking about ‘how we could improve efficiency and the quality of services to benefit more patients’ in the healthcare industry, which led her into digital health.
Liz went on to describe the opportunity that digital health brings, in that the provision of digital health solutions, such as apps, can help multiple patients at once. The challenge, however, is that there are over 300,000 unregulated health apps in app stores.
ORCHA addresses this challenge by creating a health app solution which increases awareness, access, trust and governance, in terms of encouraging digital health adoption. Liz emphasised the significance of ORCHA’s service by explaining that the journey to trusted digital health is ‘not just about [providing] clinical evidence, but also about [whether the app] data [is] secure’, which ORCHA takes into account by incorporating data privacy, clinical assurance and user experience into our review process.
Given that ‘trust is the biggest barrier’ to increasing the uptake of health apps, ORCHA’s ‘mission […] to distribute great health apps to people’ becomes primarily about providing users and healthcare professionals with a means of trusting digital health and, thus, seeing it as a viable healthcare option.
As Liz discusses in her interview, ORCHA’s robust app review process is the key to increasing trust in digital health. This review process begins with a data scrape of the health and fitness apps on Apple’s App Store, and Google Play. These apps are then filtered according to when they were last updated, before being curated into ORCHA’s 260 condition areas, and subsequently put into rank order from the most to least downloaded.
ORCHA’s filtration of the apps from app stores gives a queue that determines the order in which the apps will be reviewed by our Review Team. After the app queue has been generated, ORCHA then uses a classification system to assess the safety and quality of health apps, as well as finding out the apps’ functions and features.
But what makes ORCHA unique? Liz explains that ORCHA has ‘created a review accrediting engine that helps us process apps very quickly’, so we are unique in our very streamlined accreditation system and the consequent speed with which our reviews can be carried out. Not only do we review apps according to their ‘data security, data safety, clinical validity and clinical safety, and user design,’ we also understand the ‘continuous cycle’ of reviewing and rereviewing apps. Our system ensures that we are aware if an app has changed since it was last reviewed, meaning that the apps on our App Library are kept up-to-date with accurate information.
Furthermore, healthcare professionals can use ORCHA to find and prescribe the best apps to patients through the 87 local health app libraries that we provide. This app recommendation process is used so that professionals can ‘find a safe product and then use the system to prescribe via text message.’
Liz’s interview concludes with the notion that digital health can have the best success by being used alongside traditional healthcare services and products. Digital health is not intended to replace traditional methods, but to enhance them. For instance, sometimes a drug may be most effective, sometimes an app on its own, and sometimes a combination of the two. ORCHA believes that the way forward is for pharma and digital health companies to work together, rather than being in competition.
Watch Liz Ashall-Payne’s interview at HIMMS below: